Go Local or Die: A Simple Lesson About Supply and Demand

Source: http://www.theicecreaminformant.com/2013/10/review-publix-premium-peppermint-stick.html

love Publix’s Peppermint Stick ice cream. I look forward to the holidays every year because of this one item! When I was a little girl, this ice cream taught me a lesson about supply and demand that I have never forgotten. Society has changed a lot since the early 80’s, and I think we need to remember some of the basic facts of life, or rather, simple economics.

When I asked my father why Peppermint Stick Ice Cream wasn’t available every month of the year, he explained it to me like this:

When people don’t buy things, there’s no demand to make them because they will probably not sell month over month. Companies have to make a profit; otherwise they won’t be able to stay in business.

I told him that I would buy the ice cream year round! 

And he smiled at me and said, “I know you would, sweetie. But Publix needs more than just you to buy the ice cream in order to keep it on the shelves year-round.”

Today, this memory struck a chord in my heart as I drove down South Florida Avenue – a main thoroughfare in my city of Lakeland, FL, past the Polk Theatre. I hope you’ll indulge me as I tell you why this story of Peppermint Ice cream crossed my mind today.

Yesterday, I ran into a friend at a local coffee shop and he mentioned an article he had read several years ago by Derek Sivers about why Derek chose to focus on his global audience and not his local audience.

I went to search for the article after the conversation and read the entire article twice. I didn’t take away the same message as my friend – that’s a conversation for another day, but I did take this away:

There are becoming fewer and fewer of us who choose to turn IN, toward our local community.

Conveniences such as the Internet make the rest of the world so accessible, and for many emerging entrepreneurs, so much more appealing. They can “own the world” why would they build a business that catered only to their city or local market? Of course, some, larger cities might not feel this as much, but I know it’s something that is affecting us in Lakeland, and in other small cities around us. That’s on the “supply” side… it’s the same thing on the “demand” side too, young adults are biding their time to “get out of dodge” and go see the world.

This means that those of us who DO care about our local community have to work doubly or triply hard to ensure the success of our small, local businesses. Not just the new ones, but the traditional ones as well. Places in Lakeland that come to mind are the Polk Theatre and the Silvermoon Drive-in. These types of businesses are becoming less and less popular as the world we live in continues to grow globally.

Young people today want new, innovative, cutting edge and high energy. They aren’t seeing as much value in the history, the traditions, the “old school” ways of doing things. And, slowly, quietly, and gracefully, these businesses, rich in tradition, staples of our small towns, are dwindling.

Unless we choose to buy from our local mom and pops more frequently; unless we begin to appreciate what our local culture offers, the familiarity and the closeness, the tight-knit and the authenticity that represents Small Towns across America, we’re going to lose them – not just until the holidays come around again, but forever. If the community does not make a conscious effort to support the small, local businesses in town, they will no longer exist.

It’s a simple lesson in economics, with a simple solution.

Supply remains, when there is a demand. When demand wanes, there is no longer a reason to keep businesses open.

So, here’s the call to action for this post: Look around your town and find some businesses to support. Support them by putting your money where your mouth is. Shop there, eat there, donate to their Fund Drives to upgrade their equipment so they can keep their technology up to date.

Here’s one for Lakelanders today! There is currently a Fund Drive in place for The Polk Theatre to raise $105,000. So far, they have raised, $4,000. If they do not raise the funds to upgrade their equipment, they will no longer be able to bring the movies they have historically brought to Lakeland since 1928.

Polk-Theatre-Digital-or-Die

I don’t know much about theatres or the film industry, but I do know that our community and those who support it would miss these films, and what they say about the character of our town, if they were no longer able to show movies at THE POLK. There’s no way to measure the value of the presence of a theatre, like The Polk – an historic landmark – keeping movies alive for 87 years. But I believe there’s a strong message sent to those who are considering investing in the community, or starting a new business.

It says, “This community cares about things that last.”

It suggests that this is a great place to start or expand a business.

Prospective investors will look at our community with confidence, because its values reflect an ideal that says, “We take care of our community.”

Peppermint Stick Ice Cream is my favorite, but I can’t buy enough to keep it in the store year round. Just like I can’t donate enough to provide the Theatre with the money it needs to buy the digital projection equipment it needs.

If you are looking for more information about the Polk Theatre’s Digital or Die Campaign, visit: http://digitalordie.com

If we want to keep our local economy alive, there’s no way to do that by only looking beyond our community – we have to balance the global with the local. To me, the most important investments are the ones that impact my daily life. Seeing empty buildings and closed down shops affects my daily life. And I will do everything I can to raise awareness, and make people think Locally, whenever possible.

When there is a demand, businesses flourish.

2 replies
  1. Pops
    Pops says:

    Sometimes you really get my thoughts spinning. I wish you had spun my thoughts like this 20 years ago. There are people like I was 20 years ago in your chosen hometown today. They have dreams of success but they are waiting that success to come find them. Often they will get a start and think they are on the way and stop pushing ahead toward their dream and in spite of the good start, they can’t sustain it. Or in my case they may be too afraid someone “big” will catch a whif of their dream and take and run with it and confound their dream. What if your group met to share an idea with everyone and the next time you met everyone brings a development plan for one of the ideas and see where creative thinking take you all

    Reply
  2. Terisa & Sparky Glover
    Terisa & Sparky Glover says:

    In 2006, my friend Terry Lauretta, Sparky and I opened The General Store. After working in Downtown (at Explorations V Children’s Museum) for 14 years, we KNEW there was a demand for a place where the downtown workers and visitors could get basic items without having to get in their vehicles and leave the area. From Band-Aids to emergency feminine products, canned/bottled drinks to light snacks. We did the research, due diligence on walk-by traffic, analysis of location, surveys of the target audience (over 200 were returned!). People seemed genuinely excited for us to jump right in. Basically, we wanted to open a convenience store, but with a nod to the historical traditions of the location, and, it had to be fun. We got great press, Downtown welcomed us with open arms. We even discussed how we were going to have to work really hard to “screw this up”!

    It took less than a month to open (dollars were flying out the window from the day the lease was signed, we didn’t have the luxury of taking months to open the doors to the public – bills were pouring in!

    As far as “supply”, we offered your basic convenience-type items as well as nostalgic sodas and candies, traditional/nostalgic toys, decorative items, souvenirs, gift items, & greeting cards – trying to appeal to not only the “regulars” demands/needs, but to reach out to Downtown visitors as well. Later, as bills kept outweighing the income, we began bringing in local artisans and local authors on consignment basis. As the only “book store” in the area, we thought that this might be another niche to help balance the budget. At one time, we had over 50 such consigners, but, never was there a feel that this was a consignment store.

    We never had one piece of bad press (knock wood). In fact, due to the “feel” of the shop, we were recipients of a great deal of wonderful press, from local newspaper to magazines and even a “Good Day” segment with Charlie Belcher. We were the unofficial Downtown Visitors Information Center.

    Reality, though, is that “Support” of a business, as with an artist, means you purchase things, not just “Like” them -“Likes” don’t keep the lights on! People would come, bring friends to see the little store, hang around almost an hour, and not even buy a soda, yet, thank me for the wonderful stroll down memory lane! After 6-1/2 years of running The General Store with my heart (80+ hours/week), regular hours, 6 days/wk 7:30am-6pm plus all of the pre- and post- hours required not only for book keeping, but assuring stock was kept on the shelves, my head finally took over, and we slammed the screen door for the last time in Sept. 2013.

    A glutton for punishment, or, more likely, just attached to Downtown, Sparky and I rose from the ashes of a dream, and joined forces with Ellen Simms to combine her custom picture framing with our local artisans and gift items and, the three of us reinvented our brands to form Two Hens and a Hound. We are just THAT committed to keeping locally owned and operated offerings.

    Small businesses don’t get the discounts that the big box stores get. Most on-line shops never even touch the inventory – they just serve as a funnel for the manufacturer. We, on the other hand, are the gamblers. We have to search out merchandise that we HOPE will appeal to others, purchase those items (“terms” tend to be less available to small businesses, we just don’t have the bargaining power as the big boxes), and then, try to price it competitively with the big boxes because folks just will not pay the same profit margins.

    Appreciate your local shop keepers. Show them with your wallet that you value the services they provide, especially where exceptional customer service is concerned, (steps on soapbox – one step higher and screams) . . . and, by all that is holy – and just common courtesy, DON’T try on or evaluate items at your local Mom n Pops, or enlist the owner’s expertise in order to make it easier to order on-line – it’s just wrong!

    Reply

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