Today I walked through Native Roots Market for likely the last time, because as of the end of this month, there will no longer be a Native Roots Market in Norman. My heart was heavy as I walked through the store. This place has been more than just a store to me. Over the last several years I have gotten to know the staff, had many conversations with them, I have made Christmas cards for them, I’ve friended them on Facebook. I always looked forward to going there to shop and rarely made a trip to Norman without stopping by.
I knew the sad news before I got to the store today but seeing the for sale sign in front put that lump right back in my throat. And while I will now make the longer trip up to Oklahoma City to see the store they will be opening soon, I can’t help but feel sad that they did so much for all of us but we didn’t return the favor.
Everyone thought they would always be there so when some new, flashy, big stores moved in they started shopping there. But you can’t run a store for customers that sometimes come and as more and more chains have moved into Norman, Native Roots Market has had to compete more and more with unfair competition.
But this isn’t just a story about one store, this is a story about all locally owned stores that we love, stores that make towns unique. If we don’t shop at these stores they won’t always be there. And the benefits of shopping local are huge. Locally owned stores help bring uniqueness to a city, are more involved in their communities, and when you spend money at locally owned stores, more of it stays in your community. When you spend $100 at a locally owned store, $68 stays in your community, when you spend it at a national chain only $43 stays in the community.
Native Roots Market won’t be the last store we lose if we keep shifting our spending to national chains. And without locally owned stores, every town starts to look the same. Native Roots Market brought things to Norman that are very hard, if not impossible to find, in other stores, from the spice bar, deli, locally produced food, locally made gifts, and so much more.
We can all help ensure that we don’t lose more great locally owned stores by pledging to spend at least part of our budgets at locally owned stores.
Do you shop locally owned stores? If not, are you willing to shift part of your budget to local stores to help save them? Share your thoughts below or join the conversation on our Facebook page.