Support local businesses

Support local businesses

Since 1987, I have owned and operated the Union Square Sparkle Market (at the corner of Belmont and Gypsy Lane in Youngstown). Due to economic conditions and competitive pressures, this store will close permanently in early August.

While nothing can be done to change my store’s fate, there are two groups whose future decisions might prevent the closing of other locally owned retail establishments — our government leaders and shoppers who live and work in the Mahoning Valley.

To our elected officials, I suggest that resources be redirected from attracting new businesses to retaining those already here. It’s likely that my store’s location will soon reopen, after being granted significant incentives, by new out-of-town owners. Sure, the newly branded store will employ local folks, but with a wage and benefit package inferior to Sparkle’s. And if that new store is profitable, those profits will leave the Valley for the bank accounts of its out-of-town owners.

And to those of us who live and work here, I implore you to think twice about where you spend your hard-earned dollars. Someone is going to profit from your purchase. That’s how business works. So before you buy, ask yourself, “where will the profits from my purchases go?” Will they head out of town? Or will they be spent and reinvested in our own community by a local owner?

Independent, locally owned businesses are the foundation of this economy. But without a sound foundation, no structure will remain standing for long.

Charles F. Zander, Youngstown

The writer is president of Sparkle Markets Association.