Letters

Letters 05-02-2016

Facts About Trails I would like to correct some misinformation provided in Kristi Kates’ article about the Shore-to-Shore Trail in your April 18 issue. The Shore-to-Shore Trail is not the longest continuous trail in the Lower Peninsula. That honor belongs to the North Country Trail (NCT), which stretches for over 400 miles in the Lower Peninsula. In fact, 100 miles of the NCT is within a 30-minute drive of Traverse City, and is maintained by the Grand Traverse Hiking Club...

North Korea Is Bluffing I eagerly read Jack Segal’s columns and attend his lectures whenever possible. However, I think his April 24th column falls into an all too common trap. He casually refers to a nuclear-armed North Korea when there is no proof whatever that North Korea has any such weapons. Sure, they have set off some underground explosions but so what? Tonga could do that. Every nuclear-armed country on Earth has carried out at least one aboveground test, just to prove they could do it if for no other reason. All we have is North Korea’s word for their supposed capabilities, which is no proof at all...

Double Dipping? In Greg Shy’s recent letter, he indicated that his Social Security benefit was being unfairly reduced simply due to the fact that he worked for the government. Somehow I think something is missing here. As I read it this law is only for those who worked for the government and are getting a pension from us generous taxpayers. Now Greg wants his pension and he also wants a full measure of Social Security benefits even though he did not pay into Social Security...

Critical Thinking Needed Our media gives ample coverage to some presidential candidates calling each other a liar and a sleaze bag. While entertaining to some, this certainly should lower one’s respect for either candidate. This race to the bottom comes as no surprise given their lack of respect for the rigors of critical thinking. The world’s esteemed scientists take great steps to preserve the integrity of their findings. Not only are their findings peer reviewed by fellow experts in their specialty, whenever possible the findings are cross-checked by independent studies...

Home · Articles · News · Random Thoughts · The Buy Local Movement
. . . .

The Buy Local Movement

Robert Downes - December 6th, 2010
The Buy Local Movement
In some ways, the early ’90s were a scarier time for downtowns in
Northern Michigan than what we face today in the “Great Recession.”
Nearly 20 years ago, we interviewed Bryan Crough, executive director
of the Downtown Development Authority about the future of downtown
Traverse City. At the time, America was undergoing the recession of
1991-’92. Merchants and restaurateurs in Northern Michigan were also
threatened by an invasion of chain stores and eateries.
Back then, there were plans to build the Grand Traverse Mall south of
town; an outlet mall was also in the works; and there were empty
storefronts downtown, similar to those popping up all over America.
WalMart and the ‘big box’ retailers were sucking Main Streets dry
across the country.
Would downtown survive, we asked Bryan? How could it with all of the
mammoth chain stores moving to the area? He expressed confidence,
despite the gloomy outlook.
Crough called it right: today most downtowns in Northern Michigan are
thriving. In TC, the shopping and dining action runs well after dark,
with downtown streets filled with people strolling throughout the
evening.
Despite gaining a beachhead here, several big box stores have come and
gone through the years (Circuit City, Eastern Mountain Sports) along
with a number of chain stores (remember Hudson’s? Prange’s?). And
today, TC’s outlet mall is practically a ghost town.
What happened? Us. The “buy local” movement had its fans long before
that phrase went viral. Many of us chose to vote with our dollars to
support our downtowns.
Our downtowns also responded with makeovers: hardware stores and other
small town institutions moved on, replaced by boutiques, upscale
restaurants and ethnic dining options. Street fairs and gallery walks
were established, and theaters in Frankfort, Elk Rapids and TC got
makeovers. ‘Downtown’ quickly became the fun place to be.
These days, “buy local” is a rallying cry for those who recognize that
you‘ve got to use it or lose it if you want to live in a healthy, fun
community. It’s in sync with the “local foods” movement, which has
been a godsend for area farms, farm markets and independent
restaurants.
Recently, a “Shop Your Community Day” raised $23,000 in donations for
local nonprofits in Traverse City, with 15% of sales donated to the
customer’s favorite charity.
What the “buy local” and “local foods” movements have in common is
quality that lasts, along with the personal touch, the smile, and the
eye contact that make you feel welcome. You may pay a little more at
times, but that’s a small price for enriching your life and your home
town.

***

Then there’s the Internet and the growing push from the mainstream
media to do your shopping online.
I like this comment from a Facebook friend who noted that you shop
online on Cyber Monday, get your stuff on Tuesday, send it back in the
mail because it’s not right on Wednesday, and go downtown to buy it in
person on Thursday...
Last week, one of our local broadcasters was on the air suggesting
various websites for holiday shopping: It made me think: honey, don’t
you know you’re putting yourself out of a job when you don’t ‘buy
local’? Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but soon and for the
rest of your life...
According to an outfit called the Michigan Main Street Center, $68 of
every $100 you spend at a local business stays in your community.
That compares to $43 for every $100 you spend at a chain store or
non-local business.
That means that when you buy gifts off the Internet, you’re sending
your home town a lump of coal for Christmas.

***

Add to that, how do you buy gifts of music and books in the age of
digital downloads?
I used to enjoy buying CDs for presents, but we’ve moved on to
downloading iTunes, which falls flat in the gift-giving department.
And how do you make a gift of a digital book for the person on your
list who owns an e-reader?
Perhaps an empty box with a note inside: “Look for the new Shakira
album in your iTunes.”
Not much fun in that.

 
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