Friday, when the news that Fred’s Dollar Store in Winona was set to permanently close in 30 days, the community response ranged from outrage to deep concerns about the future of Winona.
Fred’s company announced last week that it was closing 129 more of its stores, including 35 in the state of Mississippi. This is the third round of closures the company has announced since April, and after the most recent closures, Fred’s will only have 80 stores open nationwide.
When Walmart closed in January 2018, the community responded with anger and many placed blame on local elected leaders in the city and county, but like last week’s Fred’s closings, it was a corporate decision in response to an increase in online shopping versus visiting storefronts.
I had hoped back then that with Walmart gone, local residents would rally around our locally-owned businesses and revitalize the city’s business community. And some people have! But there are still many people living in this community who travel to other cities to shop, eat, and trade.
So on Friday, when I saw the cries of concern from members of the community on social media regarding the future of Winona, I posted a message about the importance of shopping local and doing business with local professionals.
I wasn’t really prepared for the response I received.
Some people said there was nowhere in Winona to shop. Others said local prices were too expensive. Some said the only thing you could buy local were candles and decorative items. Some said it was too much trouble to go to several different stores to shop for what you need.
I’m sorry, but I disagree with every excuse offered. Let me explain.
Need household necessities? Dollar General and Dollar Tree have great prices on household items and toiletries. And if you haven’t visited the Winona Dollar General since it was renovated, you are missing out. The store is laid out well and the aisles are spacious.
SuperValu has some a great selection of meats and produce, and for a small store, it stocks a little bit of everything. Even better, if you want something it doesn’t stock, you can ask, and I bet management will accommodate you.
Greenlee’s Shoprite in Kilmichael has the best steaks in the world, and they will even pre-marinate them if you call ahead. No big city store will do that.
Are grocery prices better at some larger grocery stores? Maybe, but do those stores donate items to every benefit and special event in two counties? No, but our local stores do, and after the money you spend on gas to drive to larger cities to shop, the savings isn’t Aas deep as you thought.
Need clothing? Uniforms? Shoes? Special Treasures and Hammond’s have school uniforms in stock, and both sell shoes and other apparel. Garden by the Pond has a children’s clothing and women’s fashions, as does Whitney’s Boutique in Vaiden and the new Old Town Diva’s in Carrollton. Looking for men’s clothing and boots for the entire family? Look at Hi Grade and Vaiden Farm Supply.
I can go on for days! HomeFront tests pool water, and it has a selection of art supplies. City Trading Post has a huge selection of scrubs. Easy Feet on Front Street sells athletic shoes and diabetic shoes. There are great antique stores like Anticipation Antiques and Timbeaux on the Square, and wonderful florists that will not only send fresh flowers and potted plants but baskets of goodies to bring a little cheer to the recipient.
Winona has some wonderful locally-owned restaurants that are so good, my friends and family who come to visit make plans to dine at their favorites.
There are local insurance providers, financial planners, contractors, appraisers, realty companies, body shops, and healthcare providers. We have a wonderful local hospital, Tyler Holmes Memorial Hospital, and fantastic doctors and nurses to visit when we are sick.
Winona isn’t dying on the vine. It just needs to be watered with an investment by its citizens.
Doing business with local businesses is not going to be a hardship or put a huge strain on your bank account. Doing business locally connects you to your community, your friends, and neighbors. Doing business locally keeps your community viable. Doing businesses locally provides your children a wonderful community to return to and raise their family.
Doing business locally is the only way to keep this community thriving into the future. Doing business locally is an investment into your local schools, roads, water system, police and fire departments. Doing business locally is an investment into the very quality of life we all enjoy here.
Are you willing to invest?