Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Give the Gift of Helping Downtown San Pedro Businesses

This post contains a post originally written for "Rogue's Yarn" at

I would also encourage all of you to read the December 4 edition of Random Lengths News look at the ad and the article from Mr. James Preston Allen about shopping in Downtown San Pedro.
A Holiday Challenge to San Pedro
Posted by: Jeromy December 8, 2008

It is a busy week this week in San Pedro, but with this chaotic time of year, it was nice on Sunday afternoon to spend time with my family and walk in the 2008 edition of the Holiday Spirit of San Pedro Parade.

So as I was walking yesterday and freezing my butt off (a warmer jacket would have been nice), I spent a lot of time looking at all the retailers and restaurants along the Parade Route and I got to thinking about a challenge to our community…

Even in this difficult economy, you are a good American and you are probably going to spend a few hundred bucks on presents no matter how much your 401K has dropped and no matter how busy your company’s human resources department has been writing pink slips. So would you rather spend your last couple hundred bucks buying cheap plastic crap at Target or would you rather spend your last couple hundred bucks buying thoughtful gifts from local San Pedro merchants?

Here is the challenge: I challenge all readers of the Yarn to buy just one gift from an independent merchant in San Pedro this Holiday Season.

And when you do purchase that gift, drop me a line and tell me about it and where you went shopping and let’s help spread the word about the great independent businesses in our community.

Now I love and shop at Target (just to let everyone know that I am not completely self-righteous) but I also love this community and I don’t want to lose anymore of our great independent and family run businesses. It is disappointing to see Ramona’s with paper covering up the windows. We need to spend in our community in order to build it and keep it strong and most business groups will tell you that dollars spent at local community merchants stay in the community.

And for the local businesses out there who read the Yarn, what are your visions for the future and what would more support from the community and an increase in sales mean for you in terms of reinvesting in your business and growing your business? At what percentage increase would you be able to hire more workers and provide a greater variety of merchandise?
In closing…A few thoughts from AMIBA (American Independent Business Alliance):

Economic Value of Independent Businesses

It’s time to consider the real costs to a community that loses its locally-owned business base. Independent local businesses employ an array of supporting services. They hire architects, designers, cabinet shops, sign makers and contractors for construction. Local accountants, insurance brokers, computer consultants, attorneys, advertising agencies help run it.
Local retailers and distributors also carry a higher percentage of locally-produced goods than chains, meaning more jobs for local producers. In contrast, a new chain store typically is a clone of other units, eliminates the need for local planning, and uses a minimum of local goods and services.

A company-owned store’s profits promptly are exported to corporate headquarters.
Dollars spent at community-based merchants create a multiplier effect in the local economy that, by most findings, typically amounts to three times that of a chain. This is well-evidenced by a 2003 economic impact study by our IBA in Austin, Texas that concluded for every $100 spent at a chain, $13 remained in the community while $45 remained when spent with home town businesses.

Ensuring Choice and Diversity

Retailers sift through competing goods and services to find those appealing to their customers. Though a single local shop may carry a smaller selection than a big chain, a multiplicity of independent retailers creates great diversity. When thousands of independent book and music shops serve their local tastes and each owner’s preferences, the result is demand for a wide variety of ideas and music. This makes accessible controversial books or music from new artists with the expectation that a market exists somewhere within a variety of stores.

As fewer giant corporations dominate production and sales, our options — determined by a powerful few — dwindle. Our freedom of choice is imperiled when a few buyers from national chains choose what reaches customers — perhaps moderately disturbing for most goods, but truly frightening when you consider the impact on our choice of news sources, books, music and other expression modes. Maintaining Community Character When asked to name our favorite restaurant, cafe, or shop, it’s typically a unique local business. Just look at the results in any community’s “Best of” polls as proof. Those businesses define our sense of place, but we often forget their survival depends on our patronage.

Local owners, typically having invested much of their life savings in their businesses, have a natural interest in the community’s long-term health.

Community-based businesses are essential to charitable endeavors, and their owners frequently serve on local boards and support numerous causes. Yes, some chains give back to towns in which they do business, and not all local businesses are exemplary models. However, the overall impacts are clear: locally-owned businesses play a vital role in our community that chains rarely do, while chains often even undermine community interests.

For long-term progress, a conceptual change also is necessary. We must consciously plan that future with rules that will encourage the values we want reflected in our communities. And each time we spend a dollar, we would do well to weigh the full value of our choices, not solely to ourselves immediately, but for the future we want for our home towns.

The American Independent Business Alliance:

I feel Mr. Rogan and Mr. Allen are hitting on a very important issue in OUR community. We are going to need to support downtown San Pedro businesses if we hope the area we love has any real chances to survive.

For my part so far, purchasing tickets to downtown San Pedro productions is what I have done so far this December.

The Relevant Stage, the upcoming production of "The Nutcracker", and the December 20 Golden State Pops Orchestra's Holiday Concert are December happenings that we are supporting downtown.

Both the Relevant Stage Theatre Company and the Little Fish Theatre Company are offering season tickets at reduced prices per performances, and purchasing season tickets to BOTH companies can make an excellent gift.

With attendance at theater productions at The Warner Grand, the Warner Grand Annex, Little Fish Theatre, art galleries, First Thursdays, and along with general shopping, there is always a wonderful opportunity to dine at a downtown San Pedro restaurant.

What can any Christmas Season be without the required visit to Union War Surplus? Even when I didn't live in the local area, we shopped at Union War for a variety of things.

Winter is here and all the clothing items you will need can most likely be found at Union War Surplus.

There are shoe stores, union clothing stores, several other variety stores left, Williams Book Store, and other shopping opportunities in Downtown San Pedro to peruse.

There is a shop downtown that sells lots of items I call "smellys" because the fragrances in that shop seem so strong to me. It has a garden-type atmosphere as far as I am concerned and it sells many different items.

There are thrift shops, used clothing and costume stores, antique shopping, and stores along Gaffey and Pacific you might want to peak into.

If you love OUR community and support San Pedro with all your heart, please shop downtown San Pedro all year long and especially for those thoughtful gifts you wish to give that show you care.

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