By Michael Buhler
It’s amazing how much of a difference that just buying toilet paper locally can make.
That’s the premise of the Toilet Paper Campaign, which is encouraging Cheney residents to buy toilet paper in town from local businesses as opposed to driving into Wichita to buy from a chain store, such as Walmart or Dillons.
According to research, just buying toilet paper locally could bring over $100,000 of revenue into the community, according to Cheney city clerk Danielle Young.
“The main thing is if people buy local, they support local businesses and local people,” Young said. “Those businesses give to local charities, they attend local events and they support our local schools. If you ever need to set up a box for a fundraiser, they’re always willing to let you use their storefront. They’re there in your community and you should support them.”
But those are not the only reasons to buy local, according to Jim McGuffey, who owns Jim’s Foodliner in Cheney.
“The more that is bought here in the community, the more that is spent on our streets, our parks and our school,” McGuffey said. “If you go into Wichita, that money stays in Wichita. We don’t get any money from that. The more that’s bought in Wichita, the more businesses you’ll see go away in Cheney.”
And more money going into Wichita means less money – and tax revenue – going into Cheney.
“Our general fund at the city is funded through taxes. A large part of that is sales tax that we get,” Young said. “The services funded through that general fund are fire, police, parks, streets and the senior center. Those things rely on sales tax revenues.”
McGuffey also mentioned another reason to buy in Cheney.
One word – convenience,” McGuffey said. “You’re not spending money on gas. People that watch the ads, they save just as much as what they’d do if they drove into Wichita.”
Another reason to buy in Cheney is more opportunities to buy Kansas-made products, according to Diane Paneiko, owner of the Wish List in Cheney.
“When you walk into a store in Wichita, do they know you by name?” Paneiko said. “Do they ask how things are going with you? The local businesses care more for the customers, and that means a lot.”
One thing that could add importance to the Toilet Paper Campaign is the recent addition of another Walmart near Cheney. The Arkansas-based company opened a store in Goddard in January.
Has the new Walmart had an effect on businesses in Cheney?
“Not that I have the same stuff that Walmart has, but people have been going there and spending their money,” Paneiko said. “I think it has had an effect overall in general. But people hit up local businesses for donations and fundraisers, not the big chain stores in Wichita.”
McGuffey echoed Paneiko’s sentiments.
“Kwik Shop Market (which opened in Goddard last year) didn’t impact me at all,” McGuffey said. “Walmart has. The money spent in Goddard stays in Goddard.”
However, that does not mean McGuffey has given up the fight to keep his hometown grocery store going.
“We continue to run hot ads,” McGuffey said. “Walmart doesn’t run ads. We do everything we can. We do service. We carry out for customers. We do special orders. We do special cuts of meat. We’re a full-service grocery store, but we’re not a box store.”