I 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.
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.