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Shopping local a subject PTC Councilwoman Fleisch grew up with

Growing up in Vineland, New Jersey, my parents supported our family by running a local hardware store, and my sister, brother and I worked there from a very young age. That experience gave me some firsthand insight into the challenges that small businesses face, with low profit margins, lots of regulations, and competition for customers with the bigger chains.

Owning a local business in those days meant you knew your customers. We saw them across the backyard fence, sat with them in church, ran into them in the local grocery store and at my softball games. That really hasn’t changed, even in today’s “global economy,” although the rise of the Internet has made running a local business even more challenging.

The 1998 movie, “You’ve Got Mail,” with Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks really illustrate the differences among local businesses, chains, and the Internet.

In case someone has not seen it, Ryan runs a local children’s bookstore she inherited from her mother, with dedicated customers, weekly book readings, and that personal touch of a local neighborhood store. A large chain bookstore opens across the street, eventually closing down her shop. At the same time, she is corresponding with an online pen pal who, she only learns at the end of the movie, is the owner of the new store.

The story certainly shows the struggle between the local store and the major chain, but both of those types of businesses contribute to the community, paying taxes, and providing local jobs.

The interesting part is the anonymous online relationship. That portion of the plot really underscores the challenges in competing with online businesses, which have a much greater reach and may offer good pricing, but they have no local connection, no employees here, no taxes, and no personal interaction.

So, as you are shopping for holiday gifts this year, please keep these issues in mind before you start surfing the Internet for deals. Local businesses are owned by your friends and neighbors, they own or lease local real estate, pay local employees, and are really part of the community.

Let’s make an effort to support them by embracing the Shop PTC/Find it in Fayette philosophy!

Vanessa Fleisch

Post 4 City Council

Peachtree City, Ga.

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