Dennis McCarty is spot on with his observation that one by one, Grand Island’s retail businesses are closing. Online shopping is the culprit, taking over 14% of business away from local retailers, of which Amazon alone collects 40%.

As consumers it’s important to note that every dollar we spend online, when available locally, takes our beloved Grand Island one step closer to extinction.

With businesses closing, people are out of work, families suffer and it affects our friends, neighbors and community as a whole.

Last year, Grand Island voters passed a half-cent city sales tax to increase money available for the future of Grand Island. As stores close, sales taxes decrease and will ultimately have an adverse effect on our community’s infrastructure, ability to maintain public safety and other quality-of-life issues we’ve come to expect.

Try as they might, local businesses oftentimes are unable to match online retailers’ pricing for reasons we all know. So what to do?

Coming very soon, we’ll be asking Grand Island retailers and consumers to take the pledge to shop local. We believe that before we buy something online we should make every attempt to purchase locally. It is the only way to preserve our community that has long heralded itself as the shopping mecca in Central Nebraska.

I think we can agree that we have not seen the last of store closings in Grand Island or anywhere for that matter. We have to decide how we want to react to the glut of empty stores. We have in our power to, at the very least, slow the trend.

Online retailers do nothing for Grand Island except remove money. They don’t give to Little League, band trips or to United Way. We will all be impacted negatively unless we change our buying habits.

Join me by taking the pledge to shop local.

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