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Queens Chronicle

Be part of the answer: Shop locally

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Posted: Thursday, August 26, 2010 12:00 am

Environmentalists adhere to the dictum, “Think globally, act locally.” Fine advice, but with the economy still stuck in a rut, we hope even more people will think globally and shop locally.

It’s a cliche that small mom-and-pop stores are the economic backbone of Queens, but most cliches become such because they’re true, and this is one of them. While you can’t dismiss the great economic benefits of big operations ranging from Citigroup, with its tower full of employees in Long Island City, to the airports and all the people who work in and around them, it’s the small businessman and woman who produce most of the jobs and commercial activity that keeps the borough moving.

Stores and offices, suppliers and manufacturers, contractors and consultants — they’re all interconnected, all key to our local economy and all still hurting. There have been many recent efforts to boost local spending, usually by providing discounts to shoppers, promoted by groups ranging from the Queens Chamber of Commerce and Jamaica Business Improvement District to this newspaper and its advertisers. The latest comes courtesy of the Sunnyside Shines Business Improvement District and the New York Press Association, the community newspaper group of which we’re a member.

In Sunnyside, 49 area businesses are accepting $5 “BID Bucks,” essentially coupons that were handed out at recent public events in the area. More than $5,000 worth were given away. They’re good until Nov. 1, a date chosen with back-to-school and Halloween shopping in mind.

As one worker at a participating business put it, “It’s a win-win game. The customer is saving $5 and the business is going to get it back.”

Five bucks may not sound like much, but every dollar counts, and when it might make the difference between a family on the economic edge getting new socks for a growing child or not, for example, it counts even more.

NYPA is also promoting Main Street-type businesses, in a new effort launched with the state Conference of Mayors and Economic Development Council.

It’s called the $25 on the 25th Campaign, and the goal is just that — to get consumers to spend two tens and a five on Sept. 25. NYPA is running ads and providing window stickers for merchants to publicize the effort.

“Main Street businesses are the heart and soul of communities across New York,” NYPA noted. “They are the businesses that help build strong neighborhoods by sustaining local residents, meeting needs, linking neighbors and supporting local causes.”

All true. Who is it that sponsors Little League teams and cheerleading squads? Where do you hear the latest neighborhood news before it even hits the papers? Which are the places “where everybody knows your name?”

Local businesses.

That’s not to say there aren’t reasons to spend at the big stores too — of course there are. But we need a recovery that starts at the bottom of the economic ladder, at the bodegas, at the hair salons, at the single-location upstart restaurants. Unemployment has been stuck at 8.6 percent in Queens for three months. Taxes, fines and fees are all on the rise. Lenders remain tight-fisted.

If you don’t patronize that little shop on the corner, don’t be surprised if it just doesn’t open one day. Maybe it becomes a graffiti-ridden spot for degenerates to congregate around. No one wants that. Help prevent it and help save the economy, by spending at least $25 on the 25th. Even better, do it at least once a month. We will.

Welcome to the discussion.