Jordan Green: Supporting local business

by Jordan Green

Blackwell could be called the Fast Food Capital of the World. Not because we have a lot of fast food options, but because the few fast food restaurants here are really all we have.

Don’t get me wrong: there’s nothing wrong with a Big Mac from McDonald’s, a grilled cheese from Sonic, or a scoop of vanilla ice-cream from Braum’s. And Los Potros? Probably one of the best Mexican restaurants in Oklahoma. But wouldn’t it be nice to have more options? To have more places to sit down and enjoy a nice meal?

Well, Blackwell, we do now.

The past two weeks have been a turning point for the local food scene. Jovanni’s, your hometown pizzeria, is under new ownership. So is Prairie Smoke Barbecue, Kay County’s home for tasty ribs and sandwiches. And the Iron Horse, a local burger shack that closed last year after only four months in business, is coming back with a new menu and lower prices (more on this in an upcoming edition of the Journal-Tribune).

This is good news for our community. But what will it take for these businesses to keep the grills on?

Strong support from people like you and me.

As the son of a small-business owner, I know it’s tough to make ends meet in a town like Blackwell. You’ve got a limited number of customers, so it’s critical to serve as many people as you can. That means you have to get involved in the community: you have to show that you want to be here and that you want to help people. In the modern era, consumers are not looking for the businesses that offer the best product: they’re looking for the ones that do the most for them.

At the same time, it’s up to we consumers to show our businesses that we need them. Without support from customers, no business would be able to stay open. Even the really “good” ones.

The last several years have not been kind to local entrepreneurs. A huge recession, tumultuous markets, local political unrest, and a declining population have done little to help businesses grow. But if there’s anything that caused businesses in Blackwell to shut their doors for good, it’s a lack of support from members of the community like you and me.

It’s time for us to change that.

Business of any kind is good for the economy, especially the mom-and-pop shops that have sprung up in recent months. New businesses create new jobs, new jobs create new tax revenues, and new tax revenues create a city government that can adequately serve the public at large. Don’t we want these things?

The key to keeping our businesses alive is to visit them and buy their products whenever we can. Even a small town like Blackwell can have a good economy if it has loyal customers. Just look to Wellington, KS, a small town only 45 minutes to the north of us. Residents there have a beautiful downtown district teeming with life and new businesses, including coffee shops and clothing stores. If people in Kansas can keep their small businesses open, surely we can. (No offense, Kansans!)

While we ought to support our small businesses whenever we can, I’m well aware that no one can afford to eat out all the time. It’s just not feasible. Also, for people like me, there are times we don’t want to eat out: my mother is one of the best cooks in the world, and the only gratuity I have to leave at her table is a hug. There’s nothing like good home-cooking. Moreover, some of you may not have a big appetite. (But if that’s the case, I bet one of our new medical marijuana dispensaries could cure you.)

Even though we likely can’t eat at local restaurants every day, we should make a point to do it as often as possible.

The people who own our local businesses are not snobby corporate executives sitting behind a gold-plated desk in Chicago. They’re the men and women we see at the grocery store on Doolin Avenue. The people we go to church with. The people whose kids play with our kids and then throw baseballs through the neighbor’s win… err, maybe that was just me. Or not.

At the end of the day, they’re the people who, like us, are just trying to get by. Let’s help them do that.

Support our local businesses today.