It's time to be aggressive
By By Paul Keane
Thursday afternoon, had a chance to visit with Emilie Mims, the executive director of the Atmore Area Chamber of Commerce. She brought some good ideas to the meeting, and they are definitely worth pursuing.
Mims pointed out that many people don't realize what local retailers offer in the way of goods and services. Instead, for years, they have gone to Kmart to pick up a wide variety of merchandise. Now, with Kmart set to close in just over a month, many customers are scrambling to find out where they can purchase the things they always bought from Kmart.
With that in mind, this newspaper and the Chamber of Commerce are going to "partner up," so to speak. We want to know what goods and services are offered by area merchants, and then we're going to let the public know about it.
Call it a survey, or a free "plug" for businesses, but it's something that needs to be done.
Desperate times call for desperate measures, and we are definitely in some desperate times right now. If you've been following our series on the funding crisis faced by local schools, then you know that the loss of sales tax revenue is hurting this entire community. With Kmart closing its doors, there is an expected 10-15 percent drop in sales tax revenue looming on the horizon.
That means shopping locally becomes even greater, and informing the public of what is available in Atmore is crucial at this time.
And we're not just talking about what Kmart offered. We want to know everything that is offered here in town, whether Kmart provided it or not. It is time for this entire community to rally the wagons around the camp and defend what we have.
And it's time to provide a commitment to this community that everyone is going to work hard to make sure we don't lose things, and that we even prosper and grow in the process.
But that is going to mean shopping locally, supporting the merchants who have supported this community for many years – and continue to support this community. It's truly time to take care of our own, and that means "bellying up to the bar" and putting our money where our mouth is.
Yes, the tendency is going to be to travel to the Wal-Mart in Bay Minette or Brewton, or to head to Pensacola and do your shopping. That means the economies of those areas benefit, and Atmore is left holding the bag, a very empty bag at that.
Dollars spent in those communities are gone forever. When a dollar is spent with a local merchant, it turns back over into the community at minimum of four times. That means the dollars you spend here – in Atmore – are producing jobs, economic growth and the services that we often take for granted, yet complain about when they are not available.
That's why the Chamber of Commerce and this paper are going to aggressive work to make sure the loss of city sales tax is minimized. The premise is simple:
I think you're going to be surprised by what is offered here in Atmore. You're going to find out that most of the things you used to buy at Kmart are available at other stores here in town.
We need to hear from you by Feb. 17. That way, we can compile the results and put together the survey well ahead of Kmart's March 21 closing date.
It's time to be aggressive, grab the bull by the horns and fight like all get-out to keep the quality of life stable here in Atmore.
The ball is in the court of the merchants right now. They need to let us know what is being offered.
Once they do that, though, the ball will be firmly in our court as consumers. We're going to have to support those local businesses like we've never supported them before.
Paul Keane is Publisher of The Atmore Advance. He can be reached by phone at 368-2123 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.