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Thursday, March 13, 2008

Supporting local business is good for the entire community

We all have to shop whether we like it or not. There are things out there that we need and in some cases just plain want. I want to plant a seed in your head about shopping locally. Here are a few things to think about before you “hit the road”: first, our local business community reflects our unique culture; second, the staff at these stores knows you and knows what you want, and third, they will provide good service by listening to you and your needs. After all, you are our neighbors and our friends, and we want to continue to build relationships with our community. Fourth, trading with local businesses also helps the local economy by keeping those dollars in the community. Studies have shown that those dollars have three times the impact on your community as dollars spent in national chains. By shopping locally you are creating jobs, funding city and county services through sales tax, and investing in community development. Fifth, local businesses care about their community and in return make decisions and think about the community impact. We support local causes, charities, and support other local businesses.

Many of you know for the past 8 years I have worked at Lemuria, an independent bookstore so I am biased. John Evans opened the store in 1975, and we are currently in our third location in Banner Hall on I-55. We have been very lucky through the years because we are surrounded by a loving community, so we have survived the “big box stores” coming to town unlike many of our sister stores around the country. We would like to thank all of you who have supported us through the years and hope that you will continue to do so. For those of you who may not know much about Lemuria, I’m going to let you in on a couple of things.

Lemuria has been a part of this community for 33 years, and supports Jackson and the Metro as much as it supports us. We love for local authors to get their start with us by providing them a place to sell their books and have signings. Some of the more famous local authors to grace us with their presence have been Eudora Welty, John Grisham, Jill Connor Browne, Willie Morris, and Richard Ford. We have a great local section with books about Mississippi that you are not going to find in the chain stores. Not only do our buyers live here and know what you want, the fact that we are a locally owned bookstore allows us to have direct control over what we keep on our shelves. Although the chain stores’ managers may know about our Mississippi authors, they have less control over their inventory so they may not be able to keep up with the demands of our community and schools. The fact is the chain stores call Lemuria when they are out of a certain book. We have local artists hang their work in the store and local musicians play at our author events. We also have “not so local” authors come to entertain us by reading from their work. Lemuria also gives back to the community by donating gift certificates to local charities and schools for fundraisers. Furthermore, the staff at Lemuria is involved with our community and we always try through our website, and new blog, to post various happenings around town. We have the most knowledgeable bookstore staff in town. Come by and test us!! You might not know the author or the title but you know what is on the cover of the book and little about the story. We will know the book or we will do our best to find it for you. We love books, we love to read, and we love our customers for giving us the opportunity to have a job that involves what we love! We know that without you we would not be here.

I try to shop locally whenever it is possible but sometimes I just have to go to the national chain because some items are less expensive at these “big” stores but if the price difference is very small it is in the long run less expensive to do the right thing. Support your neighbors! Support your friends! Support your community! Shop Local!