Editorial: Local is almost everything
You will sometimes hear it said that small businesses are the backbone of the American economy, something that is not easily disputed. Unfortunately, in our modern or post-modern times, you are most likely to hear this said by small businesses or their associations in self-defense — because we are living in an age when we are always alert to the bumbling or wickedness of the people who control vast fortunes and enormous businesses, such as Mark Zuckerberg with his Meta and deep layoffs; Sam Bankman-Fried, who seems like he might have been an odd choice for a pet-sitter but who now could be facing fraud charges after his crypto exchange imploded, taking $8 billion of investors’ money with it, including from Canadian teachers’ pension funds; or Elon Musk, who every day, in motives and performance, seems to resemble less an industrialist than a Batman villain.
Small businesses don’t behave this way for a simple reason: accountability. If they abuse their customers and workers, they probably won’t be in business long. They care about their reputations (something Musk might consider but probably won’t). And they know that being local standouts means hitting that trifecta of offering goods and services with a smile and a chat about the skiing conditions. As a bonus, you know they likely will never wreck an entire sector of the economy.
There will probably be some places where an Amazon will always excel; suppose, for example, you want olive-green, 54″, thick laces for your buff-colored hiking boots and you don’t mind having two pair delivered tomorrow, all for under $10. That’s hard to beat. But it is also the case that much of what we buy online probably could be purchased from local merchants if we were willing to get up from our chairs and shop locally. Shopping in person also builds community.
This is on our minds because this Saturday, the day following Black Friday, when people fight in chain stores over big TVs, deep breath, is … Small Business Saturday. It celebrates many of the same things that make Park City home, like shopping at Jan’s for a new pack, or Hilda’s for a dress, or San Francisco Design for the perfect chair. It’s a time to do a little holiday shopping and show our love for the neighborhood merchants who help make life bearable — and fun.
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