With the combination of my first behind-the-scenes experience with the Sheridan Christmas Stroll, getting ready for the holidays and reading Kristen Czaban’s recent column, the “Think Local” mantra has been at the forefront of my day-to-day thinking even more than usual. I was curious to see, however, how much the “Think Local” campaign reaches those who have grown up with the internet and smartphones.
I talked with our two Chamber interns and members of the smartphone generation, Katie Goodell and Matthew Wille.
When asked what “Think Local” means to them, Katie, a freshman at Sheridan College, said it means “shopping downtown, supporting our businesses and talking to the local shop owners.” Matt, a senior at Sheridan High School, said, “It means supporting local businesses, and shopping at local businesses before going online and checking prices.” Similar answers and probably pretty close to how most people would define it.
We’ve all probably heard the benefits of buying local, but I think it’s good to remind ourselves just what far-reaching effects doing business with our neighbors really means. Obviously doing business locally helps strengthen our local economy.
It not only brings more employment opportunities at current businesses but also helps attract other employers and encourages entrepreneurship. Local business owners also tend to support other local businesses both for business and personal needs.
Local business owners and employees are our neighbors.
I had one local business employee put this in perspective for me as I was about to make a rather expensive purchase. “We may not be the cheapest option in town, but we pride ourselves on our customer service,” he said.” If anything goes wrong with the product, we will make things right because this is a small town, and I don’t want to duck my head every time I see you!” When you do business with people you know and will see frequently, the customer service tends to be much better and far more personalized.
If there is one thing we can say about Sheridan, it’s that we are unique. Doing business locally, especially shopping locally, keeps us unique.
“I hardly shop online or in Billings,” Goodell said. “I think we have a lot more cuter stores than anywhere else. Everyone loves to come to Sheridan because we have a beautiful downtown with the cutest, unique shops, and people are friendly. It’s a good experience.”
Wille had a great summary of why “Think Local” is vital to our community.
“Shopping local is extremely important because without it the community can’t thrive,” he said. “Competition drives a capitalistic economy, and shopping locally fuels that competition. I know people who run local businesses, and I care about their well-being as well as the well-being of everyone who works there.”
Caring for one another is at the heart of Sheridan. I hope that if our smartphone generation understands the importance of how thinking local plays a major role in caring for one another, then all of us will be reminded to “Think Local” each time we set out to do business.
Jodi Hartley is the director of marketing and communications for the Sheridan County Chamber of Commerce.