It's November now, and the Christmas season is near upon us. In our community, as it is all across America, thi s recession we're in means most folks are not going to be spending near as much this year. Unemployment is way up, and those of us with jobs are holding our breath and praying that we'll keep them. For that reason, I'm begging you not to take your Christmas shopping money out of town, because the next job that's lost might be yours.
Already, Americans' demand for cheap products from the big chain stores has destroyed millions of American factory jobs, and hundreds of factory jobs just in our county. Cheap and often unsafe products manufactured in China fill those stores simply because we've foolishly demanded the lowest price at the expense of quality. We've spent years refusing to pay a dollar more, and now we've chased all those good manufacturing jobs overseas. We did that, and we need to quit it.
I know we're all cutting back this year. What money you do spend, though, I'm begging you to spend with the local shops and stores who employ our families, who make donations to all our schools, our youth, and our community. It's the local merchants and factories who buy tickets to barbecues and car washes, who support our cancer patients, our civic groups and our churches.
The stores in Augusta, Thomson, and Athens don't do this. They don't care at all about you or your children. But our business owners, our friends and neighbors, they do care and they support our community with everything from ads for football programs and yearbooks, to radio spots and newspaper ads, even when they're on the edge of bankruptcy themselves.
You can find what you want here. You've probably noticed that smart shoppers from all over the state come to shop in Washington. They come from miles around, turning up their noses at big malls, Walmart, and all their local stores to come and wander around The Square and shop in our stores. That tells me that we do have great places to shop, that we can buy our Christmas gifts here, and only here.
It's been seven years since I darkened the door of a Walmart, so I know it can be done. I shop here first.
Now, we're still blessed to have many good jobs here. Agriculture is still king in Wilkes County, and manufacturing is still vital to our workforce, but it's undeniable that the retail and service economy here is an important source of Friday paychecks, especially for a family's second or third job.
Where we spend every dollar does make a difference. Every dollar taken out of town comes out of a Wilkes County pocket forever. Every dime and dollar could mean jobs lost here. What you do does make a difference.
Spend smart, spend with your heart, and shop at home. Please.