I’m guilty and so are you

For weeks I’ve heard the unfortunate news about the closing of Ace Hardware, an Oneonta landmark. I too, am saddened. Hearing the talk, it’s quickly followed by comments of, ‘another mom and pop shut down by chain stores.’ I won’t deny the truth of the impact of competition, there’s more to the story. It’s you and me, causing this damage by shopping outside of Oneonta and Blount County.

How many of us stop to think about the jobs created locally? Do we think about business and employee taxes paid into our community and what those monies are actually used for? How many times a week do we drive out of town for something small, like a bottle of wine, to end up buying an entire buggy of merchandise? I’m willing to bet some of those items could have been bought at Ace.

Connecting the dots to what we’ve done and the economic impact thereof seems straightforward and yet, we continue to blind ourselves. The prohibition of alcohol has a direct impact on everything we do. It’s not as simple as a few tax dollars on a beverage; no it’s hundreds of thousands of dollars in economic stimulation we are missing. Crippling growth while embracing the idea that having dinner, shopping and entertainment out of town are of no economic consequence. We’re employing people in other counties, paving roads, improving schools, and keeping shops open; fueling their growth. Meanwhile in ‘special’ Oneonta and Blount County, we continue to watch our businesses close and our towns slip away.

It’s time to change our bedroom district into a destination. To think outside the box, taking bold steps, creating attractants for new business while ensuring the ones we have continue to keep their doors open. Developing an environment, offering more than a place to sleep at night. Legalized alcohol sales open the door to a spark that if properly kindled, can turn our deteriorating community into a self-sustaining economic flame. Helping to further beacons like Ace and keep our dollars local.

Lisa Stoffregen Wester