CHICKASAW COUNTY – You can spend your money at the big box stores on Black Friday, mail it out of town on Cyber Monday or you can spend it with someone you know in Houston, Okolona, Houlka or Woodland this Christmas.
Economic development staff and city officials are urging shoppers to look for deals this holiday season, but to check out local merchants first before they take their dollars out of town.
“Small businesses offer the personal touch you won’t always find at the big, out-of-town stores,” said Joyce East, Executive Director of the Chickasaw Development Foundation. “If a small business doesn’t have an item, they will often special order it for you if you’ll just ask.”
East pointed out there are more than 200 businesses with a 38851 Zip code and many of the items found at the mall or in larger communities can be found in Chickasaw County.
Perry Grubbs, Executive Director of the Okolona Chamber of Commerce said people are often surprised with the selection of niche stores found in Okolona
“Shopping hometown stores is good for the store owners, it’s good for the city and it’s good for the community,” said Grubbs. “I don’t think local people realize the shopping opportunities we have.”
Grubbs said Okolona has a variety of shoe and clothing stores and a number of top-quality furniture, gift and niche retail businesses.
“And don’t forget our restaurants when you are shopping,” Grubbs added.
Houlka City Clerk Gay Williams pointed out Houlka is a small town and a dollar spent in Houlka helps fund city services.
“We are a very small town and we rely heavily on sales taxes to pay for city services,” said Williams. “We do have more retail than most people realize and they work hard for your business.”
Williams said she has no problem with shoppers going out of town to find that special gift.
“All I ever ask people is that they shop Houlka first,” said Williams. “If we don’t have it, it’s Ok to buy is somewhere else.”
Local residents are urged to just stop by local stores and shop hometown businesses before they burn the gas and their money at the big stores in bigger towns.
Grubbs pointed out it cost roughly .55-cents per mile to drive out of town. He said a 48-mile round trip adds an additional $26.64 to your Christmas shopping expense.
East said small businesses are the life-blood of the local community.
“These people support our schools, community events and other businesses in town,” said East. “When you shop out of town it hurts your downtown, those merchants on the highway and the local economy.”
East said most people don’t realize how many local jobs are linked to small businesses.
“Small businesses employ a lot of people and those paychecks mean a lot,” said East. “The growth of our town — the future of our town — depends on small businesses.”
Sales taxes are collected on sales of items by businesses and can be a good indicator of how much trade is occurring in a local economy.
Sales taxes are also a key revenue source for city services and often bring in more dollars to city coffers than property taxes on local residents.
Sales tax revenues are traditionally deposited in a city’s general fund and are a key revenue source to pay for municipal services such as law enforcement, street maintenance and parks and recreation.