Cheney is merely a short 20-minute journey down a four-lane highway from the largest city in Kansas. Think about it. Any item we wish to purchase or anything we wish to eat is at our fingertips within a matter of minutes. But how many of these items can also be found locally?
With the recent opening of Walmart in Goddard, I started thinking about the impact this national chain could have on Cheney and I am scared to think about what might happen to our locally-owned businesses. Currently, our Main Street is vibrant with every commercial building full. But as “the city” continues to creep westward we need to be reminded what Goddard lost a year ago…their local grocery store. Can you begin to imagine not having a local grocery store, hardware store, or any of our other locally-owned businesses in Cheney? It’s sad to say, but if Cheney residents continue to overlook what is offered locally, it could happen.
I recently read the article “A Toilet Paper Movement” in the Jan. 7 edition of the High Plains Journal. The article talked about the Chamber of Greater Franklin County in Hampton, Iowa, and its buy local campaign. This got me thinking that the residents of Cheney could easily do the same simple task – buy their toilet paper locally. Let’s face it, toilet paper is the one thing that all of us need and none of us can make an excuse about purchasing. It’s a necessity and our local grocery store carries a variety.
A study found that the average person uses about 105 rolls of toilet paper each year. At an average cost of 60 cents per roll, and with 2,094 people in Cheney, that comes to roughly $131,922 being spent each year on toilet paper sales by the citizens of Cheney to purchase 219,870 rolls of toilet paper. Sadly, Jim’s Foodliner owner Jim McGuffey reported that he sold approximately 33,367 rolls of toilet paper in Cheney in 2012 – or in other words our local retailer missed out on selling 186,503 rolls of toilet paper. That’s a whopping $111,901 in lost sales.
Most people think they can save money by buying their toilet paper in Wichita. So I did a price comparison between Jim’s Foodliner and Sam’s Club. Sam’s toilet paper is 52 cents per roll. Jim’s Foodliner frequently has sales on its toilet paper and it can be purchased at prices varying from 42 to 60 cents per roll, plus Jim’s accepts and doubles coupons.
In fact, I’ve price compared several items to our local grocery store. Recently, I saw a post that a friend had saved 47 percent on their groceries at a Wichita retailer. So when I did my grocery shopping last week at Jim’s Foodliner, I kept track of the original prices of the items I purchased and found I saved 44 percent. And the nice thing about my local savings is that my groceries were carried to my car, I had a minute of commute time, no money was spent for gas, and I didn’t have to worry about my ice cream melting before I got home.
Shopping local should matter to each of us because the $111,901 in lost toilet paper sales could have generated sales tax that would go back into funding local services – such as our local fire and police departments, city parks, senior center, and streets. Plus, a large part of that sales tax goes to Topeka, which in return funds our schools. More importantly, these local sales help support the businesses that donate to local organizations and generate jobs in our community, employing local people.
In conclusion, I’m not asking everyone to stop going to Wichita. I’m simply saying that we can start a movement by purchasing our toilet paper from our local grocery store. I’m asking you to look at what your local stores have to offer before making that journey elsewhere. If we all start by purchasing one item locally, perhaps it can lead to a larger movement and we can save our local businesses.
Editor’s note: Danielle Young is a member of the Cheney Area Chamber of Commerce board of directors and serves as city clerk for the city of Cheney.