Friday, July 15, 2016

Communities Suffer When People Buy Goods Through Catalogs Rather Than in Local Stores, 1914

From the Thursday, July 23, 1914, issue of the High Point Review

That which is not desired cannot be said to possess a value. But that which is desirable and in demand possesses a value according to its desirability—the value being regulated by the demand.

Farm lands vary in values according to their location, their productive qualities and their accessibility to the markets.

The character of crops must be regulated according to the market at hand and every community necessarily directs the character of the product brought to town by the farmers.

There must be a market for the farmer. There must be some place where he can realize on his crops and receive in exchange a fair value in money or such merchandise as will supply the necessities of those dependent on his efforts—to say nothing of the luxuries that have become practically necessities.

The day has gone by when the farmer and his family raised and produced by home manufacture all the things needed. We have become creatures of conditions entirely new. We must have stylish clothing to take the place of the home-spun worn by our forefathers. We must have pianos and organs, upholstered furniture, chinaware, crockery, tinware, aluminum utensils, self-binding harvesters, threshing machines, together with modern machinery and tools of all kinds. Our wives and daughters must have millinery and all sorts of fol-der-rols which, bless them, they are entitled to have and to wear.

Our day is no longer a period of appreciation of beauty unadorned or a disregard for the good things of life. We need, or we think we need, which is the same thing, a lot of things which cannot be produced on the farm, therefore we incline our motives and endeavors to obtain such things.

In answer to the demand for such things we have established communities for a general exchange of these things; for the exchange of the farm products for money and for merchandise. Now that we have established a standard of values for everything we figure everything in dollars and cents and if we are dealing with a storekeeper who carries a stock of the things we require and wish to buy and who wishes to buy that which we have to sell, there is no bother about making the deal.

In our community we have storekeepers who have equipped their places of business with everything we need. They have invested their money in merchandise just as the farmers have invested their money and their time in lands and machinery and cattle and in crops.

In this manner there has been created a certain market for a proportion of the crops raised by our farmers. The marketing of the balance of the crops is readily attended to by the mere fact that we have a community, a headquarters for buying and selling; the greater the size of the community, the better facilities.

If a community is poor and unprosperous, then the farmer cannot market his crops so profitably.
The prosperity of a community rests entirely with the people in that community, this, of course, including those who live on the outskirts and who really form a part of the community, because of the fact that they do their marketing there. If they bring their products to the community market and sell them there and then spend their money with the local business men, the community will grow and prosper. Land values will increase and the earnest toilers and workers will become wealthy.

But if either the farmers or the storekeepers fail to do their full share in the way of complying with the business requirements then there will be a lack of success and the community will not grow or prosper. Land values will not increase.

There is a division of responsibility, practically equal. The interests of the storekeepers and of the farmers must come together. Without a due appreciation of these requirements, no community can look for progress.

If the storekeepers do not carry the merchandise ready to meet the requirements of the farmers they realize that they cannot expect to do the business. But the failure is not here.

The great trouble in our community, now, is that the shower of mail order catalogues has descended on the land and the farmers are included to believe that no harm can come of diverting their trade from the local storekeepers to the mail order houses in the big cities.

We must keep our money in circulation in our own town. We must protect our local storekeepers. We must create and build up conditions of prosperity right here at home or there will be no increase in land values. In fact, they will decrease if we send our money to the mail order houses.

If we desire prosperity, we must help to create it ourselves by spending our money at home.

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