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"Spend locally, and we all will benefit"

"The news that Winslow Hardware owners Mary Hall and Ken Schuricht are expanding by opening a paint store on Hildebrand Lane is welcome indeed, even to those folks who don't patronize their establishment.While it may not be immediately obvious, Mary and Ken's success puts a few more pennies in all of our pockets. Money spent at their establishment generates sales-tax revenue. Some of that -- 85 hundredths of 1 percent -- goes to the city. And every dollar the city realizes in sales-tax revenue is a dollar that does not have to be raised from property taxes.The great thing about spending retail dollars locally is that the tax benefits multiply, because money is spent more than once. Some of the money paid to a local merchant gets spent by the merchant or an employee, and a lot of those transactions also generate sales-tax revenue.Plainly, not all coins that land in the register are spent locally -- the out-of-town suppliers get their cut, after all. And not all spending is subject to sales tax. But even if every $10 spent on the island saves you a nickel in property taxes, that's considerable incentive.The benefits are compounded when your money is spent at an establishment under local ownership. We all gain when profits are plowed back into the community through spending or charitable endeavors by a flesh-and-blood neighbor, rather than going to distant, faceless corporate shareholders.This buy-local focus is particularly timely in the wake of I-695 and the elimination of the Motor Vehicle Excise Tax. In addition to gutting the transportation system, loss of that revenue also wiped out the state's sales-tax equalization fund, which had distributed money to cities like Bainbridge Island that have a small retail base relative to population.While that fund was difficult to defend conceptually -- why should the state's taxpayers, some would say, subsidize Bainbridge's decision to be mall-free -- its demise has further heightened this city's over-reliance on property taxes to pay for the services we need.It's not all about money, of course. Expansion of a local, one-of-a-kind business to Hildebrand Lane is a welcome counterweight to the Everywhere USA appearance of other shopping districts. And it's all going to happen without losing an anchor of the Winslow Way business district.(And then there's the personal touch... To the mechanically challenged and dexterity-impaired, few words are more daunting than some assembly required. But at Winslow Hardware, we can watch admiringly as the assembly is done promptly and competently by another.)More than anything else, though, it's nice to see the hard work of our friends and neighbors pay off. We'll watch with interest as the building goes up, and look forward to seeing Mary at the new place come fall. We're sure that coffee can go as well with paint as with nuts and bolts. "

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