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We need to become creative

By By Paul Keane
Publisher
I visited with Mayor Howard Shell on Friday morning and, when I got back in the car, sometime ironic happened. I started the engine and the radio came on immediately, playing the Pink Floyd classic, "Another Brick in the Wall." The first line I heard was that famous one-liner, "We don't need no education."
It was ironic, because Mayor Shell and I had just been discussing the economic crisis facing both the city, the business community and the school district. It's not a pretty picture.
While everyone talks about needing more money, the fact of the matter is that the well has gone dry. And, if we don't do something about it, things are going to get worse.
There are no easy solutions, but there are some people willing to make some decisions and do some things to help out the situation.
And it all starts with area businessmen and merchants.
With the loss of Kmart, the chances are good that retail sales will decrease if we don't take a proactive stance. Many people, instead of heading to Kmart and stopping at other stores in the area, will now be heading to Bay Minette, Brewton and Pensacola to shop at a Wal-Mart or Kmart there, stopping at local businesses in that area to pick up other items.
Area businesses are formulating plans to help keep current customers and attract new ones. Two such businesses – Bateson's Furniture and Jerry's Ace Hardware – have already implemented some plans.
Both of those companies will now be open on Sundays, at least for part of the day. By adding some additional service, both businesses hope to prove to current and future customers they are committed to meeting the retail needs of this community.
We need more "out of the box" thinking such as that. I'm not advocating that all businesses stay open on Sunday. I know there are family and religious concerns involved in each one of those decisions.
But we need to take some bold measures such as the one's that Bateson's and Jerry's have taken. We need to look at marketing our companies and businesses differently than we have in the past, and we need to be aggressive right now instead of just sitting back and waiting to see what will happen.
It's those who are aggressive during the tough times that find themselves prospering greatly in the good times. We all need to prepare for the good times by taking a proactive stance during the rough times.
I don't pretend to have all the solutions, but I do have some contacts that can provide us with some solid, proven ideas on marketing and promotion. I offer those services to any business or company in town, not only now during the bad times but during the good times as well.
And let me know if your business is doing something aggressive and proactive to weather this storm. We'll let people know about it through this column.
Paul Keane is Publisher of The Atmore Advance. He can be reached by phone at 368-2123 or by e-mail at paul.keane@atmoreadvance.com.