Buying local goods is key to sustaining a healthy economy

I am guilty.

Indeed, I am a repeat offender. A recidivist.

Yes, I buy things online.

It can be incredibly convenient. Just a click or two, then a few days later there’s a package on the front porch waiting to reveal its mystery and wonder to you.

Problem is, dollars spent online or out of this community never find their way back to the valley. If you are earning a living here, but spending your money elsewhere, you are the problem. (Again, I live in a glass house here, so I am the problem, too.)

Not only are these dollars leaving the community, the potential sales tax revenue never hits community coffers, which impedes our ability to build infrastructure, the construction of which fosters commercial development, which, in turn, leads to business expansion, more wages paid, etc.

It’s a forgivable offense, in my view, particularly if you are buying things you absolutely cannot obtain in this valley. Live Maine lobsters come to mind (though Albertsons sometimes carries them).

My wife might say certain items from Nordstrom’s are on the list. Of course, there are Broncos games and Bruce Springsteen concerts, but those really are different things.

You see, the people who know about this stuff say dollars spent in this community bounce around between two and seven times. Most communities claim the number is somewhere around three. Because of our geographic isolation, I wonder if our number isn’t higher.

Let’s say our actual number is three. If you purchase a $100 item in Grand Junction, your total hit will be $107.65, including city, county and state taxes. Let’s further assume $30 of the purchase price is profit for the seller and $70 covers the product and seller’s costs.

According to the experts, you have just put at least $90 back into the local economy on a $100 purchase ($30 at three times local circulation).

I say “at least” because part of the seller’s costs — the $70 — may be paid to the seller’s employees who, in turn, spend a significant part of those wages in this community.

By contrast, if you buy that item in Denver or online, nothing comes back here. Zilch. You’re adding to the robust economic surge of the Front Range — and to our detriment.

When you start talking about cars, high-end bicycles, sofas or refrigerators, those numbers start getting big quickly.

That’s why it’s disheartening every time I see a new car in this town I know was purchased in Denver or someplace equally distant.

Our local car dealers, for example, invest greatly in this community. So, if you absolutely must have that new Lexus/Mercedes/Ferrari/Porsche/BMW, I am absolutely certain that our local dealers would be more than happy to find it for you.

This column has already devolved into something of a preachy rant, but rants seem justified in view of 9 percent unemployment, a number that continues to lead the state.

If we are going to pull out of this ditch any time soon, we all need to be pulling in the same direction. Buying everything you possibly can from a local vendor is a good place to start.

I’m seeking forgiveness and redemption myself on this one.

Jay Seaton is the publisher of The Daily Sentinel.


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