There is a grassroots movement across the county to help small towns stay viable.
Bourbon County has its’ own organization for encouraging small businesses.
Live Local BB started in July 2017 to raise community awareness of the benefits to using locally owned business over non-locally owned businesses, including internet businesses.
Geoff Southwell, president of Live Local BB said his businesses have experienced sales because of awareness that they are locally owned.
Southwell owns Miller Feed and Oil and The Butcher Block in Fort Scott.
“Individuals and businesses come in and specifically buy from us because we are local,” he said. “With the Butcher Block, we got some commercial accounts to have us cater, because we are local.”
“Ever since I have “joined the movement” I have really tried to “think Local First” and I think that, being able to be on the board with several other entrepreneurial folks has really brought to light how to ‘think local first'” said Chrystal Cowan, a member of the organization. “In my life I have taken it beyond the normal, everyday items- those are easy…. Get gas locally, buy groceries locally, feed, shoes, etc… the list goes on and on. Instead I now have the mindset of, how can I utilize my locals.”
She gives an example of a recent birthday party.
“We had a birthday party for my daughter a few weeks back, and I ordered pizza (and) I forgot to pickup ice cream, and really didn’t want to hassle with going to the other end of town,” Cowan said. ” I reached out to Brita at Papa Don’s (Restaurant)and she was able to sell me a tub of ice cream as well. I knew going in, that she may not have enough stock to sell me a tub, but I thought I would ask, and that particular time it worked out! Now ice cream isn’t something that Brita typically sells by the gallon, but it just so happened that her inventory allowed her an extra for me to buy. I could go on and on about how many times I have tried to come up with a way to purchase something from someone local, or called them with weird requests… but I think my point is that it may take a little bit of thinking outside of the box, but I have learned to try and just think local first.”
Cowan has been asked why she got involved with Live Local BB, since she works at a local insurance company.
” My response to that question, and my response on behalf of any of our professional services businesses is this- You can buy what I sell online, you can travel outside of the county and utilize an agent. But if you click the link and fill out the form to get a quote, are you really getting what you need? Are you going to have a person that you can call on a Sunday, or text on a Tuesday night at 10 pm, and the answer to that is, no you won’t… so why do I think that Live Local is important – every business in this town is important, and it’s important we support each other in any way that we can.”
“The numbers (facts on money benefitting the community) vary slightly depending on the study, but it’s pretty close to 60 cents of a dollar will stay in a community with a locally owned business and 40% with a non-local business,” Bryan Holt, a member of Live Local BB, said. “Retaining 50% more dollars in our community is a great thing!”
The benefits of money staying in the community include job creation, keeping the money in the local economy where it can be respent and also providing community involvement in the form of charitable giving to local organizations, according to the MSU study listed below.
Links for reference are the following provided by Holt:
The Live Local BB organization is comprised of locally owned businesses within Bourbon County.
“We have over 80 businesses in our group,” said Geoff Southwell, president of the organization.
Locally owned businesses can be identified by an orange sign in the window of the business. To see the list of local business, click below:
” We have a desire to see the community grow and become stronger,” he said. ” We wanted to give the community a means for identifying locally owned businesses, with owners who live in Bourbon County. We have ‘Live Local’ signage placed at each business which identifies them as locally owned.”
“We feel we have made an impact on the community to use locally owned first,” Southwell said.