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We've all heard the stories about our neighbors, even ourselves, driving 15, 20, even 50 miles to go shopping on a Saturday. Or just taking off right after work to "get a few things" but not in Carthage. Do you ever stop to think what this is doing to our lifestyle here? We don't want to tell you that you will never have to leave town, but we do want you to think about a few facts before you just let habit take charge of your lives... and the lives of your friends, neighbors, and even families...
Questions to answer before you shop:
Click on the following questions to see answers, discussion, and related thoughts...
- Are things REALLY cheaper "in the bigger towns?"
- Does it hurt to shop away from Carthage?
- What is my dollar worth in Carthage?
- Who will it hurt if I drive out of town?
- How much will I save by staying home?
- Why does it seem like stores are going out of business in Carthage?
- Do I really have time to drive elsewhere?
- OK, but Carthage doesn't have what I need?
- What does it REALLY cost to drive to Keokuk? Macomb? Quincy?
- What's in it for me? Why spend money in Carthage?
Do you have more ideas or questions about shopping in Carthage? Let the webmaster know your comments/suggestions. And remember: We're all here together, let's help make Carthage grow!
Sure, some of the "big box stores" can buy stock at a better price than the mom-and-pop stores, but did you ever do a price check on your shopping cart? We've had lots of comments and stories from Carthage people that say you CAN shop as cheaply, or at least close, by staying right here in town. We heard one story of a resident with a plumbing problem on a weekend. His friend told him to go to Walmart, "it won't cost nearly as much" but this gentleman decided to shop Carthage, instead. He got everything he needed to fix his problem, and was back at home more than an hour earlier than if he had left town. Days later, when in Walmart anyway, he checked the prices on what he had bought that day: He would have saved 59 cents on the base price, but since sales tax was higher, and since he would have put over 40 miles on his car, he actually saved money by shopping locally!
There are lots of similar stories. Check the grocery prices from County Market. Read the Journal Pilot and compare Royalty sale prices to those advertised out of town. Need crafts? Check the sales at Country Pastimes or Ben Franklin. All of these Carthage retailers, and many more, advertise specials that are always competitive, and usually cheaper, than the same items in larger towns.
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So, you decide you just want to drive out of town, and enjoy a day of shopping in "the city?" What does that hurt? Well, if you don't buy anything that's available in Carthage, it doesn't hurt a whole lot. BUT, if you buy something that you COULD have found here, then it hurts. It hurts the local business people who stock that item, and if they get hurt enough, it could directly hurt the people who work for them. It takes that money out of Carthage circulation forever (see the next question). The fewer shoppers in Carthage, the less selection. If you absolutely can't find what you want here, ask for it. Then if they can't get it, you may have to shop out of town. But just go shopping for THAT item. Resist the temptation of buying other things while you are shopping there, things that you COULD get in Carthage. The domino effect can be really dangerous. Just buy what you have to in Quincy, but come home and shop locally for what you can find here. If we all did this, before you know it, there would be even more selection, more stores, and more benefit for us all. Right here in Carthage!
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Economists keep track of how many times a dollar circulates before leaving a geographical area. Recently, that number has been about 1.4 for Carthage. That means every time you spend a dollar here, there's a 40% chance that it will get spent again in Carthage. Another way of looking at it: For every dollar you spend here, $1.40 worth of benefit is realized for the city. Some other business makes a sale of 40 cents that would not have been seen. The city collects another 40% more in sales tax than it would have gotten if you spent that buck away from here. And the best part? As more and more of us learn this, and start spending more at home, this factor actually increases. Someday, it may be 1.5, or even 1.6, and that is good for you, and good for Carthage!
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Most people tend to think that business owners, especially retailers, have it made. They have all kinds of money, and so they don't really get hurt when business is down. In fact, retail is one of the lowest-margin (profit) businesses around. When business is down, they have to cut costs, and since it's difficult to stop buying product to sell, they have to resort to reducing costs in other areas. The main way to do that? Layoffs. Your friends, neighbors, and relatives may work for a local business. If they get laid off, there are other threats to you: They are now competing for your job. They don't have the income they once had, and thus can't spend money in areas where YOU may be involved. They don't spend money, and the city doesn't collect sales tax from them. Eventually, the city has to find other sources of revenue, possibly by increasing property taxes (which easily could affect your finances!).
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This one is easy: Time is Money! Remember that saying? Well, if you don't value your time at all, and if it's worth 2 hours extra to shop 20-50 miles from home, then you don't value your time very much. Maybe you could spend that extra time with your family? Maybe you could spend it relaxing after a hard day's work, instead of rushing to Keokuk for groceries. We've already discussed the fact that prices are competitive in Carthage in general, so if your time is valuable to you, then it only makes sense to stay here.
However, if you have all the time in the world, then maybe you don't place a value on your time. How about on your car's value? How about on the price of gas? Is it worth using a couple gallons or more of gas to drive to Keokuk or to Quincy? Over a year's time, not only do you spend all that money for gas, buy you've also taken a healthy chunk of value out of your vehicle with all those extra miles. If you've ever traded cars or trucks, you know that one with 30,000 miles on it is much more valuable than one with 38,320 miles (and that would be the approximate difference if you drove to Quincy just once per week for only the 2 years you owned this hypothetical car!)
Stay home. Save gas. Save time. Save your sanity...
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Everyone always notices the stores that shut down. Even if it's because of a personal need to retire on the part of the owner, or some other issue with the owner, people immediately think the worse: Carthage retail is in the dumps. Well, where are all the people when new businesses start up? We have a number of new businesses, or expanded ones, in the last few years. But if the attitude of the public is not one of hope and support, then it will be a self-fulfilling prophecy, and retail in Carthage will cease to be. So, are stores really closing down? Yes. Are we facing a crisis from which we can't recover? NO! If we all come together, business can be thriving in Carthage. All it takes is a little discipline from you, the buying public. Think when you shop. It's good for YOU, and it's good for Carthage.
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Round-trip distance from the 4-way stop in Carthage to:
- Keokuk (Walmart and Hy-Vee): 32 miles
- Macomb (east side): 55 miles
- Quincy (Walmart, Prairie Crossing): 77 miles
- Quincy Mall area: 80 miles
Is it worth it? Not if you're shopping for something available in Carthage!
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ASK! Tell the retailer what you are looking for. Many stores have long ago started stocking items when asked for them, so ASK. Again, Carthage isn't going to be the place to just browse an entire day away, but when you know what you are after, ASK.
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Just don't forget: Driving costs more than just the price of gas. The IRS this year allows 40.5 cents per mile, to account not only for the direct costs (oil, gas, etc), but also the depreciation of the value of your automobile. That means it costs $13, $22, and $31 every time you drive to Keokuk, Macomb, and Quincy Walmarts! Are you REALLY saving money there? Shop Carthage. It's good for YOU!
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The City of Carthage makes 1% on every sale made.
Your friends, neighbors, and relatives stay employed.
Property tax rates can stay low, as long as sales are made, and retail property stays at a high assessed value. When shoppers stop coming in, the property declines in value, and the City has to raise the tax rate just to stay even.
Quincy is a nice place to visit, but they don't need your money. Keep it here, at home!