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Christmas dollars leaving Atmore

By By Sherry Digmon
One local merchant says out-of-town shopping has reached crisis status.
Jerry Cochran, owner of Ace Hardware and Auto Parts, is watching his sales drop as consumers go out of town to shop. And he's at a loss as to what to do about it.
Big ticket sales are becoming more rare in his business.
Although he has watched the situation worsen, he has no solution. He suggested another campaign with the Chamber of Commerce and the merchants, something along the lines of the "Try Atmore First" campaign of a few years ago.
Kmart Manager Randall Shuttlesworth also suggested a campaign, one that would educate consumers on the importance of spending money in town.
Money spent in Atmore benefits the city in sales tax revenue which in turn benefits citizens with more services.
Despite consumers going out of town, Kmart's sales are up about 5 percent over projections. Shuttlesworth expects the next three days to be the biggest for a couple of reasons.
As it gets closer to Christmas Eve and people are busier, they tend to shop at home more.
Another big factor is the weather.
Mark Booth, manager of B.C. Moore and Sons, said business has been good this season. Like other merchants, he would like to see residents shop at home. But he said some of his customers come back after they've shopped out of town.
Booth said there are advantages to shopping at home.
Exchanges and returns are more convenient. Checking out is faster. Shoppers save money on gasoline and eating out.
There are just three shopping days left until Christmas.