Shopping Local — What That Really Means to All of Us

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Last month, one of our Facebook friends tagged us on a post titled “Shop Local!” in which he cited statistics showing that “for every $100 spent, $68 stays in the community from a local business, compared to $43 from a local branch of a chain store.” Moreover, he stressed that our property values from locally owned businesses pay taxes that benefit schools, emergency services, and community enhancement by shopping local.

At the time I noted the amount of pride our team takes in being locally owned. There’s also additional responsibility to be a good community member, especially when your name is on the business. Everyone who works with you represents your family and your business in the community. We are a combined community of over 200,000 people here in the Brazos Valley, but we’ve not lost the small-town feeling of friends doing business with friends.

In building our new funeral center, as you’ve seen in past columns, I highlighted all the local vendors that Chelsea and I selected to work with in creating our vision for how best we could serve our community. I’m a third-generation member of the Bryan Rotary Club because we truly enjoy projects that give back to our Bryan. Supporting the arts and music accomplishes similar outcome—building a stronger Bryan-College Station.

On College Avenue and Villa Maria near our business, the new roads and utilities have really provided a facelift complementing our building. The city of Bryan invested in road improvements, just as we reinvested in Bryan in building our funeral and cremation center here. Your choosing Callaway-Jones Funeral & Cremation Centers helps keep our money right here in town.

August 10–12 is tax-free weekend in Texas; for all your back-to-school purchases, think first about local stores you can patronize and you’ll benefit, too, by shopping local.

I’ve been thinking about what it means to “Shop Local” for a businessperson, but also what it means to a member of the community. Local resident David Marethouse posted an important essay on Facebook on July 12, and I’d like to share with you a few of Mr. Marethouse’s thoughts:

“…a local business often values its employees more as seen by increased compensation, increased investment and development, a higher retention of employees during economic downturns, lower employee turnover rates, and an increase in employee satisfaction. Stacy Mitchell with the Institute for Local Self-Reliance states that “[studies indicate] that a community’s level of social capital, civic engagement, and well-being is positively related to the share of its economy held by local businesses, while the presence of mega-retailers undermines social capital and civic participation”. Locally owned businesses are simply and authentically more involved in their communities, have a greater respect for, and a vested interest in the health of, their communities and encompassed populations, and have a greater understanding and regard for their patrons’ needs and desires.”

This reminds me loud and clear of the fact that you “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” when you stop and think about it. We live where we operate the businesses we own. We can take pride when we see a new fire station opening in our community. When a school on Villa Maria undergoes a long-needed renovation and the new campus opens, we see our taxes at work on so many levels. We can all take pride that together we all made that possible—you, when you patronize local businesses, and us, as business owners.

Mr. Marethouse then asked people to “List local businesses you deem exceptional and worthy of your endorsement and promotion.” And in the comments that followed the following businesses were included:

1541 Pastries and Coffee

CapRock Health

The Republic 1836

Callaway-Jones Funeral and Cremation Centers

Light Pediatric Dentistry

Smitty K’s

All the King’s Men

Karsten’s Business Park & Storage Center

House of Tires

Benjamin Knox Gallery & Wine Depot

The Village

Art979 Gallery

Outliers Strategies

Lazy D Feeds

JJ’s Snowcones

Yesterday’s Bar & Grill

Joes’ Place

Martin’s Place

The Sleep Station

Must Be Heaven


And then, there’s Bryan Broadcasting, with President William R. Hicks, and Vice President and General Manager, Ben Downs, two names you know well from years of listening to WTAW, Candy 95, Sports Radio The Zone, Maverick 100.9, Peace (107.7 and 101.3), Classic Country Willy FM (both 97.7 and 103.5), and Christian Family Radio 1510.

Stop and think that you frequently see Ben Downs as MC of many major fundraiser, and a few years ago, he was honored by the Brazos Valley Museum for his giving back to the community. Our annual Bryan-College Station Christmas Parade committee has had Ben Downs on it for more years than I can recall. You frequently see the faces of the owners of local businesses on TV. You’ve seen Christopher Lampo cooking on television and he’s the same Christopher Lampo who just opened a new porch for his customers at the restaurant he owns.

Remember Buddy’s Brazos Appliances TV commercials where Buddy says, “I’d like to retire, but my grandkids won’t let me!” Buddy is still running his popular store and you hear people say, “Go see Buddy,” and you immediately know who people are talking about. Jarrad and Alicia Mcleod own The Sleep Station, and you’ll see their faces on their fun television commercials as well as when you walk into their store.

Have you met the three Scarmardo family of Scarmardo Food Services? Been into The Farm Patch lately? You see them in their business operations daily. Do you know Richard, Larry, and Roland of Readfield Meats, today known as Ruffino Meats and Food Service? Of course, you do. As of 1997, three generations of Ruffino’s had worked for the family business. Local attorneys establish their law practices in town and they are known by their reputation. Local realtors we’ve seen in business for so many years are the ones we think of automatically because we know you when we “shop local.”

Downtown Bryan has been rejuvenated and has flourished in the past twenty years because Kay Conlee remembered the joy of growing up with an active, vital downtown shopping community. She restored the building now housing Old Bryan Marketplace and Downtown 202 and last week for “First Friday,” you might have dined at one of many local restaurants there, seen a film in the newly restored Queen Theatre, heard live music at the Palace Theatre, and shopped local up and down Main and Bryan Streets. It just takes a commitment from local families with history of generations working and living here to make our community their priority.

The last line of accountability is a person who owns a local business. We’re the decision makers, right here. We don’t have to call corporation headquarters to get a decision. Instead, we make the decisions, and we are accountable to you the customers for all our decisions.

At the end of every day, we know we succeed or fail based on your decision to “shop local.” Thanks to Bryan Broadcasting, we have the “Best of the Brazos” annual awards program and in years past we’ve been honored to be selected “Best Funeral Home” in the Brazos Valley. In fact, we were just informed and most honored to be chosen your 2018 Best of the Brazos winner for Best Funeral Home again this year. This award means so much to us because it’s the home of our community’s “Shop Local” program.

So, our deepest thanks to David Marethouse for beginning the dialogue on Facebook and for including us among the local businesses he believes are worthy of his endorsement. Every day we are here for our community and we appreciate it when you place your confidence and trust in us.

Feel free to add other local businesses that you would like to recognize here: