When a light goes out in the Valley

When a local retailer goes permanently dark due to the challenging economic environment, we all lose.

Over the past month, there have been a couple of Valley businesses who have had to reluctantly close their doors. Because so very many things in this Valley are connected, when a local retailer goes permanently dark due to the challenging economic environment, we all lose.

When a business closes, many ‘B2B’ relationships and support services then go unused. Valley insurance, financial or legal businesses won’t be called on for advice. Our local I.T. computer experts will get one less desperate phone call or e-mail for tech issues. Valley contractors, electricians and handymen’s calendars become just a bit less busy. Rent goes unpaid. Buildings languish empty. Neighboring businesses get less passer-by and walk-in traffic. During the lunch hour, one less seat will be taken at our local restaurants.

When a business goes dark, our cities and schools also get less tax revenue. Our local non-profit and community service, arts or athletic groups receive less monetary donations or sponsorships. When our out-of-work neighbors are scrambling to look for a job further afield, they are harder pressed to serve on Valley non-profit boards and committees or even to coach a youth soccer team.

Locally owned small businesses also give our individual communities character and diversity. They are what makes each town in the Valley so unique. Valley businesses also carry a higher percentage of locally produced goods than most national or regional chain stores. This equals jobs or income for our friends and neighbors.

Most importantly, when a business goes dark, citizens of our Valley families also lose their livelihood. Scrambling to keep a roof over their heads and food on the table, hard-pressed families buy less local products. Local charity services are taxed even further.

Our youth also suffer. Instead of our Valley parents and care-givers working just ten minutes from home and schools, they now have to travel farther afield to find gainful employment.

For small businesses, every single penny counts. Here in the Valley, we have a great diversity of businesses, products and services available. I urge you to take that 35 minutes you may have spent traveling to and from the Issaquah ‘big box’ stores and take a fresh new look at what the business community here in your own backyard has to offer. Talk to your friends and neighbors about where they go locally to buy items or services. Pick up a copy of the Valley Record and see what products our loyal retail partners have to offer. Most of you have a copy of the Snoqualmie Valley Chamber of Commerce 2009/2010 Resident’s Guide and Directory. Use it!

Think, act and shop locally. You’ll be glad you did. So will we all. We’re all in this together.

• William Shaw is publisher of the Snoqualmie Valley Record. E-mail him at wshaw@valleyrecord.com.