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Ellsworth, KS 67439
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8/16/2005

Taking Another Look

If ya read the Cowboy Commentary long enough ya find that The Cowboy is often consumed by rural economics or the lack thereof. At Drovers Mercantile we have noticed a definite drop in visitors since gasoline prices began to soar in May. It’s not just Drovers. Kansas business in general is suffering. Few businesses offer optimistic comments when asked how things are going. On the other hand we have experienced some increase in internet sales from our website. Folks may be turning to the internet to shop, as for the time being, shipping is often less expensive than driving to the store.  
 
Interestingly enough, Wal-Mart came out today complaining that higher gasoline prices were having a negative impact on profits. With that the stock market has taken a downward trend. The millions of small businesses all across the country can feel the pinch, but no one pays any attention until the big boy starts to scream. “It takes away from discretionary income for their consumer.'' 
 
Imagine that… I’ll never figure out how a highfaluting education doesn’t seem to offer any more insight into economics than a back 40 Cowboy. Someone should take them Wall Street boys on a tour of the range. They might get an idea or two about reality.  
 
Wal-Mart’s customers are generally less affluent than the customers that haunt other department stores. Many stores draw customers from outlying places that require driving some distance. All of a sudden it is less costly to visit the small town shops. In a strange sort of way high gasoline prices just might be beneficial to smaller communities as consumers turn an increasingly discriminating eye to their local retailer.  
 
It appears Wal-Mart’s answer to the problem is to abandon their traditional customer. Chief Executive H. Lee Scott was quoted in June indicating that Wal-Mart “needs to appeal to higher-income shoppers”. That’s all business and ya can’t blame them for that. But, after all, it is obvious that Wal-Mart has no loyalty to its customers. If the traditional ones don’t keep the profits growing just find new ones. You won’t see your hometown retailer doing that. Sooner or later I only hope we realize that we are a social animal and that we NEED relationships that we can rely on. That merchant in your hometown isn’t going to turn on you. He needs you and just maybe… You need him. 
So Long, 
The Cowboy 

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