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August 15, 2014
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Hemig: Shop local

I frequently hear the words “shop local” from people and businesses in our community. But I also hear that the choices in Nevada County are somewhat limited and tend to be more expensive than those found in Auburn, Yuba City, Roseville or even Reno.

Since I am new in town, I needed to find a few items — a couch, a small kitchen table, a bed — to furnish a temporary apartment while looking for a house. I decided to check out the local shopping options first.

My wife and I have had previous success finding furniture we liked at Ashley’s Furniture Home Store. So I was pleased to find one in downtown Grass Valley.

Like most people, we like to try out furniture before we buy it. Stopping by the store and kicking the tires, so to speak, was a necessity.

We found a reclining sofa we both found comfortable at the Grass Valley Ashley’s, and the price seemed reasonable. But thinking that maybe the price would be cheaper down the hill, I called around. I found the same couch in Sacramento for $500 more and in Reno for $600 more. Yes, I saved over $500 in Grass Valley.

The three-piece dining set we liked was equal in price to the Sacramento and Reno locations.

If I add the cost of gas to drive over there, I would have spent another $20 or so.

Stopping by Ashley’s Furniture in Grass Valley also provided me an opportunity to meet Chellie Peterson. Chellie is the sister of our current mayor, Dan Miller. It was fun to get to meet somebody in our community with a connection to our town’s leadership.

I also needed a bed, so I looked at the list of winners in The Union’s “Best Of” contest and found that Foothill Mattress Center has won many, many years in a row. My wife and I stopped by their location, next to JC Penney’s, and owner Betty Ernst was able to help us find the right mattress to fit our needs.

Checking outside of our area, I also found this mattress for exactly the same price outside Nevada County.

But to purchase this outside the area, I’d again have to add the cost of gas, and probably another $20-30 for lunch, since driving out of the area would take extra time. One could argue we’d have to eat regardless, but I’d rather spend my money dining at a local restaurant than in another county.

In both cases, it’s important to note that shipping was going to be an issue. These locations had to ship from Reno, Sacramento or Yuba City, and some shipping charges were higher than others. The Grass Valley Ashley’s shipping charge for the couch, two end tables and the three-piece dining set was $59. The Sacramento Ashley’s was going to charge $130. Another $71 dollars saved.

So buying local can save money, as well as make you feel good about supporting the local economy. In some cases, it can make you feel great.

Last Friday night at the Ag Mechanics auction at the fairgrounds, my wife and I won a wine barrel table. The unique, handcrafted piece was made by Fallyn Foster, a Nevada Union High School student and FFA member.

I also picked up two beautiful paintings at the Neighborhood Center of the Arts in Grass Valley. I met Executive Director Amee Medeiros, and she told me the Center provides art programs for adults with developmental disabilities in order to promote creativity, independence and dignity. The paintings I chose were created by two of these local artists, and I was able to buy both for much less than a gallery artist painting.

So now I have a furnished apartment in downtown Grass Valley with paintings, wine barrel table, nice couch, small dining set and a bed, all purchased locally.

But what about buying an automobile? Since all the major auto manufacturers’ new car dealers left town many years ago, I’ve heard you have to drive out of the area to get a new car.

To test this out, I went to Liberty Motors to drive a few cars. Of course my eye was drawn to the sporty white BMW Z3 convertible. What a great midlife crisis car! Or maybe a car for your wife to drive around to impress her friends.

Gary Alcombrack, 25-year owner of Liberty Motors, has 80 vehicles that looked virtually brand-new on the lot. Each carries a warranty which is unusual for a used car dealer. And the entire sales team is on salary, not on commission, so they’re not trying to get the most money out of you. They also have a service department to work on your car. Best of all, they are in town between the fairgrounds and the Raley’s shopping center. Gary attends car auctions on most Tuesdays bringing new cars to the showroom floor. If there is something you’re looking for, ask him to look for you. Gary also mentioned that between the three local car dealers there are around 250 cars to choose from.

Interesting thing is, I purchased my dream car in Grass Valley two years ago, before I started this job. So even a local car purchase can be a positive shopping experience.

If this column reads like one giant ad, well it is. I’d like to ask all of The Union’s readers to make their best effort to shop local whenever possible.

For my wife and I, it felt very good to support the local economy and save money at the same time. If you have a shop local story, please share it with me sometime. I’d love to hear it.

Jim Hemig is publisher at The Union. Contact him via email at jhemig@theunion.com or at 530-477-4299.

If this column reads like one giant ad, well it is. I’d like to ask all of The Union’s readers to make their best effort to shop local whenever possible.


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The Union Updated Aug 21, 2014 08:58AM Published Aug 15, 2014 01:01AM Copyright 2014 The Union. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.