Other Voices: Thanks to our wonderful local merchants | TheUnion.com

Other Voices: Thanks to our wonderful local merchants

After having been honored at the recent Nevada City Chamber of Commerce dinner with the 2007 Stan Halls Architectural Award, local resident Mike Good and I are exhilarated. Yes, we are not noble enough to be humbled, but we are egotistical enough to be exhilarated.

The most invisible component of the historic Wright home at 548 East Broad Street project is the local merchant. Ninety-eight percent of what you see inside and outside the former Wright house was purchased locally. Why anyone would shop “down the hill” is a mystery to us, especially after having had the major shopping experience of almost completely rebuilding the historic house. Trust me, this entailed major shopping.

The local prices were competitive with the best of the big box stores. I know these things because I was the project researcher. But let’s look at things other than price – as price is only one component of the shopping experience.

Free delivery from Williams Stationary included hauling six large file cabinets upstairs, unwrapping them, carefully inspecting for damage and trying drawers to make certain everything worked.

The price was totally competitive, and the store owner was the one who carried the cabinets upstairs. This is but one example of fabulous service and unfailing courtesy. There are others.

The couch we ordered from a catalog at the furniture store was a mightier matter, but the local store even stood behind that. “If it’s not what you think you ordered, we will honor it,” they said. Fortunately, it turned out to be perfect because we had knowledgeable help.

Knowledgeable help is no small matter. As we all have discovered, things are not always as simple as we would like them to be. Did you know that there is a whole world of button knowledge? Yes, those little things which keep you from being arrested for indecent exposure.

One often hears, in defense of shopping out of town, “I can’t find it locally.” I say, you haven’t really had your heart into looking.

Our merchants are not only armed with knowledge, they have catalogs and can order most anything that is made. I have earned the right to speak with authority on this issue.

Life’s laws of the inevitable are always operating: We read about them in letters to the editor. Yes, problems arise, even in Roseville.

Having shopped locally for this project, there were very few problems – most being quite minor – and nothing the merchant didn’t fix. That they cared was obvious. You know whom to call, and it’s a short drive to look them in the eye.

We actually had employees and owners check in to see how the item looked in the house and if it was doing the job it was supposed to be doing. We took things home to try, such as lighting fixtures and smaller home-furnishing items. This was very practical and enjoyable.

Statistically, the more you drive your car, the greater chance there is of having an accident. The insurance companies put these laws of the inevitable into their quotes. You live in a big city, you pay higher rates.

The more you drive, the greater probability of having an accident. So your irrational mind tells you to buy gas, battle traffic and drive to Roseville – only to stand in line and be waited on by a part-time employee. If there is a problem or a change of heart, you get to do it all over again.

In closing, remember that these local merchants are not just faceless dispensers of commodities. They have families, pay their taxes, work hard, have children in Little League and live next door.

So the next time you ask a merchant for a donation to your favorite charity, you might ask yourself, “Is this fair?” Do I help this merchant keep his doors open? If not, while you’re shopping in Roseville, ask for your donations there, because local merchants need your dollars to survive and continue giving to your favorite cause.

Joan Girdler lives in Nevada County.

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