The tag on the bathroom rug said, "Made in the USA," so we bought it. The set of storage bowls, in the store filled with Chinese goods, also said, "Made in the USA," so we bought that, too. Considering past product recalls with questionable contents, the toothpaste and other items that are meant to be ingested, but also made in such foreign countries, are most definitely avoided.
Earlier in the year, this column as well as a national movement, asked Americans to make a conscious effort to purchase products made in the USA. It would only take a small percentage of us doing this to make a significant and positive economic impact. There would be more business with less unemployment and national debt. It logically follows then, that we might consider a similar practice for supporting our own communities. In addition to buying American, how about buying local?
Remember the days with all the "mom and pop" businesses up and down the streets and on every corner? Old time shows such as "Happy Days" with Ron Howard even depicted them with the soda shop and the father's hardware store. Guess what, we still have some of these local businesses that have somehow managed to hang on despite the huge corporations with undercut prices on many foreign goods. We also have small and locally run lumberyards, restaurants, appliance stores, furniture stores, etc., and a multitude of services. What's more, these businesses are often quite competitively priced. When we make the choice to buy local, we are supporting our neighbors and keeping money in our region, which in the end also benefits ourselves. Just take a look when you are around town, ask your friends, or peruse the yellow pages to find out what is available.
Mills such as the Hanover Mills and Falls of Forestville were lucrative businesses in the 1800s.
Just for fun, a look back into our county's past shows what we had many years ago. In the earliest days in the beginning of the 19th century, one of the biggest cash flows in the area was from clearing the hardwood trees and burning the stumps to make pot and pearl ashes and black salts. These were in high demand around the world to make such goods as glassware, ceramics and textiles. Soon there were sawmills and gristmills. The 1921 book, "History of Chautauqua County," names some of the specific businesses. In 1808, Elisha Risley opened a store which later led to Risley Seed Gardens with the growing of seeds for public distribution and sale in the United States. By 1816, Jamestown had the first cloth dressing factory operated by Daniel Hazeltine. One of the largest furniture making plants in the county also had its roots from 1816 in Jamestown as a cabinet making shop by Royal Keyes. A Jamestown business also pioneered a photographic paper ahead of its time that later became a branch of Eastman Kodak. Arkwright had the first cheese manufacturing factory. According to the book, Silver Creek began manufacturing grain cleaners, and it was estimated that three-fourths of all used in the world came from there. Wine manufacturing began in Brocton, and of course there was the Brooks Locomotive Works in Dunkirk that in 1915 employed over 3,000 people.
At one time there were about 60 factories of various sizes in Dunkirk and Jamestown with 169. Fruit and vegetables were manufactured throughout the county, with Westfield and Ripley known for grape juice. In the early 1900s, Chautauqua County was the eighth in the state with factories.
Local production and the business outlook are certainly different today. The reasons are numerous and complex, but suffice it to say that all is not lost. We can do what is in our control, and that is to buy locally to support our communities. It starts out with small choices by individuals and groups such as a recent "back to school" luncheon where teachers of the Fredonia Teachers' Association used their individual funds to purchase food from a local deli-market. Go to your locally owned hardware, lumber, office, jeweler and any other specialty stores. It will make a positive difference.
Make it a good week and support local businesses, Mary and Rosamond
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