By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Guest column: Think locally before you shop elsewhere
Guest columnist

By John Cameron, guest columnist.

The days leading up to Thanksgiving had my inbox jammed full of “Black Friday” specials. One does not have to wait anymore as the deals seem to start the Monday before Thanksgiving. As you get closer to the big day, the deals get more frequent.

In fact, I received no less than two emails per day from Lucky Brand, even on Thanksgiving. A week later and the deals keep rolling in. The competition for my dollar is at an all-time high. Richmond Hill does not have the shopping and dining options that other larger cities have, but if you spend some time looking around town, you find plenty of great family owned businesses who put the personal touch on customer service.

My family is originally from Texas, but we are blessed to call Richmond Hill home. Aside from the schools, one of the primary things that attracted my family to The Hill, was the small-town feel. I grew up in Iowa Park, Texas. A small town that had great schools, all the feels of Friday night lights, Saturday afternoons at the lake, and Sundays at the park after church. I worked at the local grocery store, which seemed to be the place to see everybody. Remind you of the Hill?

Go to any local sports event, restaurant, city council, or neighborhood hoa meeting and you will hear plenty of wishes or complaints from fellow residents about what we want or what we “need” as our small town grows. 

“We need an aquatic center.” “We need a center for performing arts” “We need improved infrastructure so people can get around by means other than car.” “We need more technology in our schools.” “We need to keep our taxes low.” “We need a Chick-fil-A.” While the latter is a private venture, many of the things I hear we need are funded through taxes, bonds, and other funds raised locally.

I like the sound of those amenities and new services coming to the Hill.

Considering I ride a bike every week on these county roads, I’m all about that mention on increased infrastructure to move people and I would like that before I am 80. I am also realistic and want to keep my tax burden low.

How can we get the things we “need” and not drain our wallet with high taxes?

According to a study by American Express, “approximately 67 cents of every dollar spent locally, stays local.” ( Think about how much you spent on Black Friday and do the math. Then talk with your friends, neighbors, and others who know what Richmond Hill "needs” and see how it adds up. Recently, I was made aware of a local team fundraiser where the winner received a $500 gift card to… the outlet mall in POOLER. How creative it would have been if the organization raising the funds would have made a Shop Local basket valued at $1,000? Sign me up for 20 tickets!

Want better facilities for your teams? Shop local.

I saw a fantastic gift awarded to my favorite local coach. It was a quilt made of various t shirts from races he has taken his teams to over the years.

I want one of those! I started going through my closet organizing old triathlon, 5k, and other event t shirts.

The backs of those t shirts are loaded with logos from local businesses.

Participate in a 5k run and you’ll see plenty of logos from local businesses on the back. By the way, that local 5k is most likely hosted by a local run shop. Think of that before you go for that 20 percent off sale from one of their very own suppliers. Find a local charity raising funds for their needs and ask how they raised the funds.

Most likely, they raised those funds by going around to local businesses asking for donations. Want more for your schools? Shop local.

I get it. It is so easy to send Jeff Bezos your cash and stuff just shows up a couple of days later. There are plenty of Prime vans driving around the Hill. And yes, some stuff is just not available locally. You would be surprised what is available if you spent some extra time looking locally. Stop in your local shops. If you don’t see something you need, ask if they can get it for you. Slow down some, give them some time, and watch the magic happen when your purchases start racking up cash in local tax coffers. The dollars you’re sending to Bezos isn’t coming back to work for you.

The point I am hoping to make with you is to simply think locally before you shop elsewhere. Every time you shop elsewhere, you are robbing yourselves from the stuff you “want or need” being funded by means other than increasing your tax burden. The more you shop locally, the lower the tax burden you will face when something you want is getting put to a plan.

If I need shrubs, I go to Tim and Dave’s. Tim helped my son with his Eagle project, so I gladly buy from him. We proudly get our Christmas tree from Ellas. The fertilizer in our yard comes from Ace. My bikes and training gear comes from Hill On Wheels – of course I am biased. There is no better sandwich than the Wilmington at Charlie Grangers and I trust Tech Smart to fix my computer and cell phone issues. 

Dunkin? Nasso! Texas Roadhouse? Give me Local on 17.

I love walking into a local shop and talking to local owners and employees. Try it! Make your new year’s resolution to invest in spending more locally. Challenge your buddies to do the same.

Small Business Saturday is a nice touch by American Express. But we can’t think local only one Saturday per year. It must become a state of mind. A healthy and robust local economy attracts more business. More business means more tax revenue. More tax revenue means more services and amenities. There is abundance in being local.

Cameron owns Hill on Wheels bike shop.

Sign up for our E-Newsletters