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Buy Local, Should Be More Than A Slogan

In Business, Economy, Education, Health, Jobs, Local News, Opinion, Senior Lifestyle, sociology, Uncategorized on September 26, 2012 at 8:01 am


By Gery L. Deer

We hear the phrase constantly – buy local. But regardless of how much encouragement comes from public service announcements, most people still buy what they need from large, corporate chain stores. From toilet paper to breakfast cereal, local markets have always had a difficult time competing with companies like Walmart, Target and Meijer.

Since the start of the recession, local chambers of commerce and other civic groups have tried to get people to switch from big box buying to shopping at the locally-owned retailer. As money belts tightened, those messages were falling on more deaf ears than ever before.

Money in a particular community is a bit like blood in a body, it has to circulate to do any good. Money moves around a region from business to consumer and back, over and over again. That’s how the economic system works. Buying from out-of-town based companies moves the money out of the area. Buying local keeps more (not all) of the money in the community.

Many argue that they simply can’t afford to shop locally because of significantly higher prices. Others complain that local companies lack the product selection or expertise of larger merchants. A family struggling to make ends meet and feed a couple of kids can’t pay $4 for a box of breakfast cereal at a local vendor, when Walmart has it for $2. For them, every dollar counts and the extra five minutes they drive is worth the time and gas if it means there is significant savings at the bottom of the sales receipt.

Prices are lower at chain stores because of mass buying and selling. For example, for every bottle of ketchup a small grocery store sells, companies like Walmart sell hundreds of thousands more. It’s a simple matter of volume. A small business lacks the massive reach and bulk buying power afforded to big companies and therefore has to pay more for products, passing that higher price along to customers at the cash register.

Some small shops lower prices on one aisle, like on every-day necessities such as bread, cereal, soap, and so on, while keeping prices higher on extravagancies to counter the difference. Many already offer a generic alternative to most products or a store brand, the quality of which is often superior to the national offerings.

In the end, it’s up to the consumer to pay attention and do a little homework to see what’s out there and comparison shop. Most large, chain stores will price match nowadays. But nothing is more infuriating than to see someone in Walmart trying for a price match with a coupon from a local store offering a cheaper alternative. Why not just shop at the local retailer and get the deal they’re offering while keeping the money in the community?

Of course, it could be easily argued that big-box stores should be welcomed rather than refuted since they employ more people and pay more taxes to small communities. Valid points of course, but what happens when corporate decides to move the store or shut it down? The collateral damage can be economically devastating.

It should be emphasized also that this problem is not limited to groceries and sundries. Service companies like law offices, insurance providers, carpet layers and even accountants struggle to retain clients, even after years of service. These kinds of businesses are based on trust, relationships and personal referrals, concepts that may have escaped the younger generations who opt, instead, for the online approach or more “progressive” options.

Buying local needs to be more than just a slogan offered up by politicians in tough economic times. Government can’t and won’t save the local economy. It requires a joint effort between consumers and businesses. Consumers need to tell local retailers what they want; Retailers, listen to customers and take action to keep them.

Buying local strengthens a community’s economy against downturn and protects jobs. So, take your next shopping trip to the local grocer and phone your nearest insurance agent for a competitive quote. You might be surprised at what you learn.

Gery L. Deer is an independent columnist and WDTN-TV2, Living Dayton business contributor. More at http://www.gerydeer.com


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TWilly’s FrozenYogurt Café Offers An Adventure

In Business, Children and Family, Economy, Entertainment, Food, National News, Senior Lifestyle, State News, Uncategorized on September 21, 2012 at 7:00 am

T-Willy’s Yogurt Emporium owner, Wendy Preiser

WASHINGTON TWP. / CENTERVILLE – If you think you know what a Velvet Elvis might be, you could be wrong. Instead of a framed piece of retro artwork, imagine swirls of chocolate, soft-serve yogurt, add two slices of flamed bananas, a squirt of peanut butter topping and a generous sprinkling of maple sugar potato chips. How’s that for something “the King” might have had on his table?

That’s just a taste of what is available at T-Willy’s Yogurt Emporium, the newest tenant of Washington Square Shopping Center in Centerville. On Saturday, September 29, T-Willy’s invites everyone to join them in celebrating a brand-new way of enjoying frozen soft-served yogurt during a special, grand opening event.

Beginning with the official ribbon cutting for invited guests at 10 a.m., T-Willy’s will open from 11 a.m. until 10 p.m. for an exciting day of door prizes, samplers and much more. According to shop owner, Wendy Preiser, T-Willy’s Yogurt Emporium is not just another soft serve yogurt café. It’s also about exploring your creative, adventurous side.

“Our store is about trying something new,” Preiser says. “There will always be something to intrigue and inspire our customers.”

Inspiration can certainly be found everywhere in the shop, from the adventurous mural on the wall to the gigantic, tree-trunk toppings table. There’s even an antique, manual typewriter, complete with post cards, all set to take down your special story. If the atmosphere isn’t enough, the myriad of yogurt and sorbet flavors is sure to turn a head or two.

T-Willy’s offers a rotating menu of specially blended frozen yogurt flavors including Blueberry Burst, New York Cheesecake, White Chocolate Macadamia and Tart Cranberry Hibiscus. Of course chocolate and vanilla are available for those who want an old favorite. All of the yogurt and toppings are sold by the ounce, in cups.   Mixing and matching is highly encouraged. There are always options that have no sugar added and most are gluten free.

Originally from Chicago, Preiser completed her undergraduate education at Northwestern University and received a Master of Business Administration from the Kellogg School of Management. After years working in new product development with food companies like Sara Lee Bakery, Nestle Chocolate and Birds Eye Foods, Preiser set out in her new business venture with the knowledge that today’s families are always on the lookout for great-tasting, healthier choices.

T-Willy’s frozen soft serve offers one of the highest counts of live and active yogurt cultures. The average 4-ounce serving contains less than 0.5 grams of dairy butter fat. “Yogurt is such a great basis because it is healthy, tasty and fun,” Preiser says. “My philosophy on food is that we should pay more attention to what we put in our bodies and less about what we leave out.  If we eat consciously, the occasional treat can be good for us physically and especially emotionally.”

T-Willy’s Frozen Yogurt Emporium is located at 6085 Far Hills Ave., near Boston Stoker and just across the parking lot from Dorothy Lane Market. To learn more about T-Willy’s Yogurt Emporium, including the incredible tale of T-Willy, go online to www.twillysyogurt.com or call 937-567-7818. T-Willy’s is open daily during the summer from 11 a.m. until 10 p.m. and until 8 p.m. from October through April.

Fifty Years and Still Trucking

In Business, Economy, Education, Jobs, Local News, National News, Opinion, psychology, Senior Lifestyle, State News, Uncategorized on September 19, 2012 at 7:07 am

Deer In Headlines

By Gery L. Deer

Over the last few years many small businesses fell apart as a result of the recession. But one family business in Jamestown is celebrating a half-century of service with no signs of slowing down anytime soon.

In the summer of 1962 my father, Gary Deer, Sr., was working the machine shops at the great NCR, laying concrete on his off hours and helping my mother, Lois, raise my brother Gary, Jr., and sister Cathy (I wasn’t quite on anyone’s radar just yet). Money was always tight, but a toolbox full of skills always seemed to provide him with ways to pay the bills, however unconventional his blend of work.

It was around that time, armed only a truck and a scoop shovel, he was hired to haul a load of sawdust from Indiana to a greenhouse in Fairborn. Sawdust was used for landscaping and mixed with potting soil and mulch for bagging trees and other plants. Never one to turn down work, he agreed and that first load of wood shavings and dust led to a job that would support his family for many years to come.

Gary Deer and Son was the name he first gave his business, which included the cement work at the time. Fifty years later, there’s an “s” on the end, but it’s still very much in business and keeping my father and brother busy.

I grew up in the seat of an International Harvester grain truck. It was a beast of a vehicle, nicknamed the “binder” because of its lack power steering, a hand-actuated dump bed with the lever positioned outside and behind the cab and shaky, wooden sideboards. The truck held somewhere around 7,500 pounds of sawdust and always seemed to be in demand by dairies, horse stables and livestock farms.

One of dad’s earliest customers was Young’s Dairy in Yellow Springs. Even today, the popular tourist spot uses the clean, dry sawdust Dad supplies in the barns and around the livestock areas.

Over the last half-century, it’s been a common sight along US 35 to see one of Dad’s signature red (and for a time blue) trucks tarped down in red, white and blue rumbling down the highway. But you can’t imagine what it was like growing up and trying to explain your family’s business to teachers and other kids (particularly those from the city).

While taking a business class at Greeneview High School during my freshman year, we were asked to write a report about a chosen occupation we might pursue. Having no clue yet as to what I wanted to be when I grew up, I decided to write about Dad’s business – assuming I’d eventually be part of the business.

In the essay, I explained that sawdust was a major commodity within the agricultural, livestock and lumber industries. It’s a by-product of the wood finishing process in pallet shops and lumber yards, essentially vacuumed from beneath the saw tables and piped into a pile or building for storage. The mill can then sell off the sawdust at a premium, making money from what was basically waste material.

I went on to explain how grain trucks, semi trailers and wagons are used to then transport the material to dairies and stables to be resold as bedding. People make money by reselling the material, something my father and brother have now been doing for decades. The irony here was that the teacher gave me a “D,” not for my writing ability, but instead citing that sawdust hauling was, “not a viable career.”

Having effectively insulted my family business and our livelihood, the teacher was strongly encouraged by a higher power to change my grade and I wonder what he’d say today? That was more than a quarter-century ago and, though many businesses have dried up and blown away, Dad’s is still going, there’s even a website, garydeerandsons.com.

But I can’t help thinking sometimes about how things worked out, how random that first call was back in 1962 and where it led for my parents. It taught me that sometimes the simplest of circumstances hold opportunities you can’t even yet imagine. Mom and Dad created and managed the business on their own, with no help from anyone, and we are all forever grateful.

People Treat You Like The Clothes You Wear

In Business, Economy, Entertainment, Media, National News, Opinion, Politics, psychology, sociology, television, Uncategorized on September 11, 2012 at 9:59 am


By Gery L. Deer

How do you think people see You?

From the earliest of ages most people are taught not to judge the proverbial book by its cover. But, contrary to that advice, we all tend to treat people like the clothes they wear, even though we only see what they show us.

Each of us is judged every day by our friends, employers, customers, even those on the street who we don’t know. We are judged because of height, weight, hair color, skin color, clothes, shoes, the car we drive, what kind of dog we have and, especially during this election season, our political views.

Sometimes these assessments are socially motivated. If you are active in a particular political, social or economic circle, your sociopolitical survival may dependent solely on the perceptions of others. Your clothing, how you walk, how you speak and even the color of your eyes can affect whether people accept you into their clique.

Still, while most of us avoid calling such critical attention to ourselves, some people crave it or are naturally argumentative, choosing instead to invite a challenge to their choices. When you put a bumper sticker on your car or dye your hair blue, for example, the purpose for doing so couldn’t be clearer – you are trying to get a reaction from people.

Naturally, someone is reading this saying, “No, that’s wrong! I’m exercising my freedom of expression.” A valid point; but we express things so that people will hear us, otherwise why bother? So again, whatever the motivation, you’re seeking the attention and someone will be judging you for it.

Now, in an era of high-tech surveillance, even more people are watching and judging us. For those who actually thrive on such attention, reality television has set an unprecedented tone of exposing the worst in people.

Exposure seems to be the operative word here, with TV shows that exploit virtually anyone all in the name of ratings. Cable television, once dedicated to entertainment and news, now specializes in parading before us a sideshow that would have embarrassed even the likes of P.T. Barnum.

From little people and hyper-religious families with dozens of children to hog-hunting hill folk and spray-tanned uber-rich housewives, producers jockey for best train wreck for prime time. Why? Networks are raking in the advertising cash by feeding on the voyeuristic, excessively judgmental nature of the American public.

People think it’s fun to watch and criticize those who have willingly thrown themselves out there to be fed upon by the vultures in the viewing audience. All of this comes from our inherent tendency towards prejudice and the underlying critical nature of humanity.

Something worth mentioning is that as I was writing this, I realized I had used the word “judgment” or “judge” more than I normally would in one essay. Reviewing several online thesauruses, I discovered there were no direct synonyms for the word “judgment” when it applies to forming an opinion or condemning someone based on personal opinion. It was the only word that fit. How’s that for a narrow-minded reality?

In the end we’re all judged and we all do the same to others. We might not act on those opinions, but we certainly have them. It’s a fact of society, and always has been. A person in a business suit will likely be treated differently than someone in dirty, torn jeans and a t-shirt. As inaccurate as it might be sometimes, people treat you like the clothes you wear.

Remember also, that all of this depends on your point of view, like the car missing two hubcaps on one side. If the observer is looking at the side of the car where the wheels are still covered, what difference does it make?


Greene County Authors Featured At Lebanon Book Signing

In Business, Children and Family, Education, Entertainment, Local News, Media, National News, psychology, Senior Lifestyle, State News, Uncategorized on September 10, 2012 at 7:18 pm

Authors C.C. Christian and R.G. Huxley

Lebanon, OH – On Saturday, September 15, Chapters Pre-Loved Books, in Lebanon will host a reading and book signing featuring two, newly published Miami Valley writers. From 1 p.m. until 3 p.m., visitors have the chance to meet C.C. Christian, author of the middle grade adventure novel, The Legendary Tales of Sharktooth and Hammer – The Awakening and R.G. Huxley, author of paranormal thriller, The Cleansing.

Celebrating two years in business, Chapters Pre-Loved Books is a locally-owned, family-operated bookstore located at 726 E. Main St. in Lebanon, at the west end of the Colony Square Shopping Center. Unlike the cramped, musty used bookstores people may be used to, Chapters offers a more upscale experience. A wide selection of new and used books, games, puzzles and more are offered in a welcoming atmosphere which includes a pleasant decor, wide aisles, comfortable seating, coffee and tea for purchase, free wireless internet access, and a welcoming atmosphere.

Yellow Springs, Ohio native C. C. Christian began her writing career unexpectedly by telling stories to her two sons which eventually led to The Legendary Tales of Sharktooth and Hammer – The Awakening.  The story revolves around two young sharks named Sharktooth and his best friend Hammer who set out on a journey to discover the truth of The Battle of the Great Canal – a war that ultimately changed the future of their colony forever.

First in a series of three, the novel is packed with action but, as Christian notes, it’s educational as well. “The story line presents many situations that people, especially kids, face every day,” she says. “This book is meant not only to entertain, but to enlighten and peak the readers’ curiosity about many topics and places.”

Richard (R.G.) Huxley grew up in Fairborn, Ohio. His paranormal crime novel, The Cleansing, follows former police detective Jack Angel, a man who could, at one time, literally feel and see a crime from the point of the victims. When three pastors go mad and try to cleanse themselves by fire right in front of their congregations, one survivor may hold the answer to the disappearance of Angel’s daughter, drawing him reluctantly back into his old life.

“The idea (for the book) came to me one day out of the blue,” Huxley explains. “I remember sitting at my desk and watching a trailer online and it showed this guy walking around the woods and he was engulfed in flames. He wasn’t fighting the blaze and I wondered what if he set the fire himself?”

Excerpts from the books are available from each of the authors’ respective websites, http://www.sharktoothandhammer.com and http://www.rghuxley.com. Visitors to the signing and store anniversary event will receive special pricing, autographs, photo opportunities with the authors and more. For detailed information visit http://www.chaptersprelovedbooks.com or call (513) 934-BOOK (2665).


Of Stuffed Shirts and Empty Chairs

In Business, Economy, Education, Jobs, Local News, National News, Opinion, Politics, sociology, State News, Uncategorized on September 8, 2012 at 8:49 am


By Gery L. Deer

Americans have a tough decision to make in November: re-elect a president with failed policies and lackluster performance or replace him with an arrogant, out-of-touch businessman who seems to hate the poor and elderly (at least that’s how Democrats portray him).

President Obama has forced the country further into debt and is still nursing an unemployment rate of more than 8-percent. His first election campaign was built on the concept of “hope and change,” but his time in office has resulted in neither.

Mudslinging ad campaigns have done nothing to inform the public of what either of these men intend to do about the economy, jobs, healthcare or any other issue. And, for all the glitz, glitter and even Hollywood infiltration at the Republican National Convention, it would be hard to argue that it was anything above unremarkable.

Mitt Romney’s predictable – no, make that inevitable – nomination by the GOP delegates held all the drama of getting part way through a mediocre novel and having someone spoil the ending. Nearly a week later, the only thing still being talked about from the event is the nearly unintelligible ramblings of actor Clint Eastwood to an empty chair.

Ridiculously long and pointless, this scene made no one’s day and served only to confuse viewers and insult senior Americans. Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice helped to reverse the “Eastwood” effect, attracting both the African American and female viewer and adding class and intelligence to the stage,

Unless the Republicans can really show how he intends to change things for the better, Mitt Romney is going to have a difficult time showing Obama the door come January.  People simply aren’t responding to the lack of an obvious platform coupled with his image as a stuffed shirt corporate type who registers a big fat zero on the personality scale. Add to that the silver spoon he’s had in his mouth his entire life and it’s a combination that leaves a bad impression on struggling, middle-class voters.

Even though the Obama administration has failed to deliver most of what was promised in 2008, Conservatives seem to lack inspiration on any level and just can’t seem to get out of their own way. Republican Kevin Yoder’s skinny dipping adventure into the Sea of Galilee then trumped by Republican senate candidate Todd Akin’s offensively ignorant statements regarding rape certainly stole Mitt Romney’s spotlight for a few weeks this summer.

Unfortunately for the RNC, perception is everything in a race like this – especially since no one seems to be paying any attention to the facts. Mitt Romney comes across as the personification of the “Jones” that everyone living in a snooty, upscale neighborhood is trying to keep up with. He’s completely unaware that the people down the street are losing their home to foreclosure or that the guy next door just lost his job because his company shipped the work to China. Romney just wants to have his two Cadillacs in the garage and make sure his boat is ready for a long weekend in the Hamptons.

The main difference between the candidates is, not surprisingly, ideological. Obama is the guy who wants to care about everyone but keep his job. He still wants to hold on to his own wealth of millions – yes, he’s a millionaire just like Romney, but he wants to appear like he’s not. People think he’s a nice guy and respect his efforts while still admonishing his failures. But swing voters seem to be uncertain as to whether he should get four more years to keep trying.

As the Democratic National Convention gets underway, it will be interesting to see how the President counters one resonating quote from Mitt Romney during the RNC: “You know something’s wrong with the job [Obama’s] doing as president when the best feeling you had was the day you voted for him.” The President is still polling better that Romney in many regions, including Ohio, but poll numbers are not election returns and, right now, it’s anybody’s race.