Buying Local. Or not.

I was part of a discussion this week. A mother wanted to purchase her child an item and was wondering whether she could buy it locally, pointing out the place she knew would have stocked it had closed. I offered that she could probably purchase the item in the next suburb, at the locally owned store, where the item was in stock and the price was $44.95.

Other mothers in the discussion offered up online alternatives, saying the item was available online for cheaper at $39.95 from the UK or USA. With most of these suggestions came the catch cry “I like to buy local but…”

I bit my tongue as unbeknownst to them, I was in fact the owner of the local shop in question and the price difference they were loudly proclaiming was simply GST. This is not about GST though; it is about what you choose to support.

Here is the thing, you either buy local or you don’t.

It IS that simple.

You either buy from a local store, who employs local people, who pays taxes to your government to provide you with services, or you don’t.

You either support the local store that supports the community, or you don’t, and the community loses that local store. The landlord loses the rent, the school loses the prizes that store would have donated, local and national charities lose the funds that store would have raised, and the community has one less place to congregate.

You either buy local or you don’t.

As another dear local store closes over in the next suburb, a toy store, I see people bemoan the loss of another local store and that all the local stores seem to be closing. “Such a loss isn’t it…” “What a shame..”  “They are such a great little store.”

A store, unfortunately, cannot survive on platitudes. They require your support.

“I like to support local, but…”

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The monolithic international stores who sell their stock at cost or just above, who are exempt from tax in our country (be it right or wrong) will not support your community, nor care if your local school has a raffle coming up and needs donations. They will not hire local people nor pay taxes to go towards our infrastructure or healthcare. They will just continue with their aggressive marketing plan to wipe out small local stores until they are what remain.

There is no ‘but’. You either shop and buy local or you don’t.

And if you don’t buy local and support local; you will lose local. Probably forever.

It really is that simple.

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Tanya Caunce for TLC BOOKS

www.tlcbooks.com.au

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National Bookshop Day: or why bookshops rock!

It’s National Bookshop Day on Saturday!!

On August 20, booksellers around the country will act like little kids who have had too much red cordial, happily buzzing around with a sense of pride and elation that their stores are being recognised for being an important part of our culture and our communities.

As the owner of a bookstore, I can tell you we don’t do this for the money! All of the booksellers and owners I have come across are passionate about reading, learning, literacy and the communities they dwell in. They also tend to be a little quirky with a tendency towards OCD, but that’s another post altogether.

Jon Page of Pages & Pages Booksellers put it well when he said:

“While reading is generally a solitary activity it is also a social one. Readers love to share their thoughts on books and the books themselves with friends and family. So while we often read by ourselves we want to share our reading experience with others. The bookshop is essential to this sharing process.”

I love the conversations that I get into with customers about all sorts of different genres and writing styles. On any given day I have numerous conversations with passionate readers about what they have just read, what they will read next and what they are looking forward to.  This morning alone I have:

  • Helped one customer to find two books on explaining IVF to children, and where they came from.
  • Chose two books as presents for a grandma visiting her grandchildren in Scotland, both Australian stories by Australian authors.
  • Talked to an avid crime reader about branching out from Scandinavian Crime and trying Before I Go To Sleep by S.J. Watson
  • Sourced a book on a tricky relationship situation for a customer
  • Talked to two authors about upcoming books
  • Found the perfect distraction for a pirate obsessed child at home with the flu
  • Discussed and sourced books for a customer doing a paper on ‘People and Place’ at university.

All of these discussions and books found for people represent the service that booksellers do all the time, because they love books. That is also why we organise book groups and events and story time for children, because reading is as essential to us as food, water and oxygen.

Booksellers also form a conduit between the author and the reader.  We are very privileged to be able to meet authors and get a glimpse into why and how they write, which we then share with our customers.  Occasionally we even get to have those authors in the store to meet their readers, which is always a thrill.

This is why National Bookshop Day is so exciting for us, everyone will be reminded of the place around the corner that isn’t just a store selling books, it is in fact a doorway to new worlds, new learning, an escape from the everyday or a journey, where you can meet like minded people who share the same passion for reading and get encouragement and advice to read new books.

As author of Loathing Lola, William Kostakis so eloquently put it:

“There’s more to a bookstore than simply selling books. Thanks to the RedGroup collapse, all anybody wants to talk about is the fact that bookstores are dying. Well, maybe places where they just sell books are dying, but bookstores that are active parts of the community; connecting readers with books, authors and each other… they’re thriving. There are 1000 things that bookshops like TLC can do for you that Amazon can’t, you simply have to step inside and ask.”

I look forward to wishing everyone a happy National Bookshop Day!

TLC Books is having it’s own special celebrations on National bookshop Day – see our website http://www.tlcbooks.com.au or http://www.fb.com/event.php?eid=128524687240633 for details.

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Tanya Caunce for TLC Books