An interesting comment came through by email a few days ago. A local businessman was sharing his thoughts on the region, particularly its economic struggles. Among other things, he said our region can be pretty well defined by the communities that trade at the North Creek drugstore. This comment hit home for me yesterday as we took advantage of a break in the weather to do some grocery shopping in Glens Falls and Saratoga. Its a regular pilgrimage for us, as it is for just about everyone in our region. As we headed south, I took note of people we knew, presumably on the same mission. I also started to notice license plate holders and bumper stickers, both serving as good indications of where people call home, However, it was the gentleman in Saratoga wearing the Tupper Lake EMS jacket that really made me ask, why do we do this? Why would someone choose to make a 240-mile round trip on a beautiful sunny afternoon? I am sure many can relate to walking through Wal-Mart or BJs, and seeing as many familiar faces as a trip to our local Rite-Aid. I will admit this comes in handy for me as I tend to lose my way in the big stores, and it usually does not take long before a familiar face wanders by to offer some directions. Its comforting in a way, even if the only reason is to help us realize that were not alone in this ritual. As talks of a deteriorating economy continue, and we actually see the impact at the checkout counter, it makes me wonder why more of us do not shop locally, and what our local businesses will do to survive. This past fall, during one of the last nice weekends before the weather turned, I woke up early one morning to finish cutting our last bit of firewood for the season. It was going to be a great day, and the culmination of two months of work. As luck would have it, my trusty chainsaw chose that very morning to call it quits. I was faced with delaying my project for another week (and risking the oncoming weather), or try to do something about it right away. I thought about driving to Glens Falls and just buying a new saw (it was running on borrowed time anyway), or seeing if somebody local could fix it quick. My first stop was an area repair shop, with the owner quickly making a fatal diagnosis after taking the time to look despite a healthy line at his counter. After telling him of my plight and seeing the glum look on my face, he then said, Well, lets at least get you a loaner for the weekend. With that, I was driving away 10 minutes later with a weekend loaner and a perspective of local business that I have never fully appreciated before. A few days later, I returned the loaner and happily walked out with a brand-new chainsaw. Sure, I probably could have saved a few dollars by driving 50 miles and comparison- shopping, or buying it online. However, the next time I am in a jam, I do not think a clerk at one of the big chain stores will be quite as accommodating or helpful as my local shop. The economic tide is turning, particularly as people become disenfranchised with imported goods sold through major retail outlets that seem more interested in profits than customer service. As the price of gasoline increases, the frequent quick trips to Glens Falls start to take a toll on the family budget as well, tipping the scales toward local business. As far as I am concerned, I will continue to do as much business locally as I can. Its not always practical or possible, but I hope that bit by bit, the tide will turn and we can help our current businesses to grow, and attract the additional businesses we need and desire. If our economic community is truly defined in terms of who buys their prescriptions in North Creek, a person could be forgiven for asking why it makes sense to export our hard-earned money. To be successful, we need to meet businesses halfway, and let them know what is important to us and why, while we still have the chance.