October 30, 2013 - Three classes of second-graders from Clear Lake Elementary descended on downtown Oxford Friday to learn about local businesses and spend a few dollars to support them.
Clear Lake second-graders Alden Emmons (left) and Bailee Egbert check out all the fun things during a field trip to Funky Monkey Toys in downtown Oxford. Photo by C.J. Carnacchio. (click for larger version)
Approximately 75 students spent the day visiting Funky Monkey Toys, Merge Studio & Gallery, Johnston Photography, Beadifferent Boutique, Soothe Your Soul and The Max, a new fitness center.
The field trip was designed to show the kids the different types of goods and services they can purchase right in their own community.
Students also learned about how businesses depend on each other and consumers to prosper.
At Funky Monkey Toys, owner Tom Jones explained to students how for every dollar that's spent at a local small business, 73 cents stays in the community.
That 73 cents helps to fund local government and public services through taxes, support community groups through donations, purchase goods and services from other local businesses and pay employee wages.
When that dollar is spent at a non-local business, 57 cents leaves the community.
Jones pointed out how shopping locally at a toy store like his can actually save consumers money.
"It saves gas when you shop local," he said. "Toys 'R' Us is 30 miles from here and that costs a lot of gas to drive there."
Shopping local also helps provide jobs for residents.
"Local business is one of the largest employers in the country," Jones said. "We hire moms and dads to work here."
Unlike big box or chain stores, Jones noted that local businesses are special and diverse in nature.
"Every Wal-Mart is pretty much the same across the country," he said. "Our businesses are unique to this town."
Local businesses are also very knowledgable about the products and services they sell, which enables them to better serve customers, according to Jones.
"We know what we're talking about," he said. "We specialize in toys (and) every other shop you see specializes in their product. They're experts."
After Jones' presentation, the kids transformed from students into consumers as they each bought a toy or two to enjoy.
Now, that's a fun lesson!
CJ Carnacchio is editor for The Oxford Leader. He lives in the Village of Oxford with his wife Connie and daughter Larissa. When he's not busy working on the newspaper, he enjoys cigars/pipes, Martinis/Scotch, hunting and fishing.