Growing up in a large metro area, shop local didn’t really mean anything to me.
With the exception of my favorite pizzeria in Kansas City, KS — Italian Delight, in case you are wondering — or our plethora of world-class barbecue options, I mostly shopped and ate where it was most convenient.
That was my mindset until 2013, which is when I got my first taste of small-town living in Newton.
One of my favorite things about that community is the downtown square filled with local businesses, eateries and a two-screen movie theater all anchored by the Jasper County Courthouse.
My favorite coffee shop there was Uncle Nancy’s, I regularly ate fro-yo at Worth the Weight and remain a huge fan of Moo’s Barbecue, which replaced the frozen dessert shop once it closed.
I could also spend hours looking for stuff I didn’t know I needed at Relic’s Antiques and started our newsroom’s Thursday night karaoke tradition at the dearly departed The Scoreboard Bar & Grill.
Living in that town changed my perception of a lot of things and it showed me why it was important to shop local and support your hometown businesses.
Everyone wants to live in a vibrant community filled with locally-owned shops and restaurants, but those places can’t be just for show. You have to actually patronize them to keep to them going.
I bring this up because of the recent shake-up we are seeing in downtown Sheldon, more specifically the closure of Marigolds.
I wrote a detailed article on this in the Aug. 28 issue of The Mail-Sun, which also was our most-read story online that same week.
In that article, Marigolds owner Jenny Pomerenke wanted to be blunt so that people knew why she was closing.
She talked about the Amazon effect and the lack of loyal local shoppers, which reminds me of a slogan I’ve seen plastered on signs at many small businesses: “Amazon isn’t going to sponsor your Little League team.”
She acknowledged we are all guilty of going online — If you can find me some size 15 mainline retro Air Jordans in Sheldon, I’ll gladly buy them — but that we should also look local first as well.
I love that I can light a candle in my apartment that I bought from downtown boutiques or that my “Star Wars” looking ice scraper comes from Downtown Hardware.
When I needed links removed from two watches, I went to Time After Time. When I needed data pulled from an old hard drive, I took it to Super Hi-Tech.
During a recent bout of car trouble, I went to Co-op Gas & Oil and Morgan Collision & Tire first.
And regular readers know how much I love food, so I enjoy checking out our local eateries — Truly Scrumptious is my favorite lunch spot, The Levi Burger without ranch and with waffle fries on the side is my jam at Langer’s — although I still need to have Saturday morning breakfast at J&B Bar.
The reason I wanted to write about this is some people interpreted the Marigolds’ story as me calling it a death keel for downtown Sheldon and many of those shopkeepers will tell you — and me — that’s not the case.
Obviously, a business closing is a story in of itself; however, I wanted to touch on more happenings in downtown, clear up rumors and provide insight into our local retail economy from those who are directly involved in it.
The big key from all the conversations I’ve had from reporting the story and after it is shop local, which I concur with. We all benefit when we support one another.
Downtown clothing store owners will tell you that having similar shops in the vicinity is good for them because it draws more shoppers in.
Sheldon’s Shop with a Cop program was able to stay in Sheldon this year because four local merchants stepped up to the plate. And, yes, I know Bomgaars is based out of Sioux City, but its local leadership is the reason the store was able to carry more children’s clothing, which is kind of an important aspect of hosting a back to school shopping spree.
Our local business owners have a vested interest in this community and this includes my bosses, who operate offices in three N’West Iowa towns and built a multimillion dollar printing facility on the east side of Sheldon.
I guess my main point is that “shop local” shouldn’t just be a rallying cry we all shout from time to time when a store closes; it’s something we should all embody, especially in rural communities.