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A guideline for purchasing within Sullivan

By Van Morrow
May 4, 2016

I’m writing as a small business owner and taxpayer in Sullivan County, looking to convey an idea that might make a change in the way business is done by our school districts, government offices, or any organization supported by taxpayer dollars that occasionally buys goods and services from a variety of outside vendors.

As background, in my business, Mountain Bear Crafts, I do traditional screen printing on T-shirts and sweatshirts, as well as machine embroidery. I do all the work in my shop in Livingston Manor, and I don’t simply take orders and then subcontract out to bigger companies not based in Sullivan County.

I feel compelled to write because of two recent disappointments. The annual “senior shirts” for our local school—which is walking distance from my shop in town—as well as shirts printed for the recent school play, were ordered from online vendors. As it becomes more difficult to make a living here and as school taxes continue to rise, I feel I should have been asked to at least submit bids for those particular jobs.

As I understand it, organizations and clubs within the school are free to buy whatever they need from anywhere, and there are no guidelines for buying locally. (Although buying locally might be suggested to the clubs, there is no requirement that they do so.)

I see people doing most of their holiday shopping online and out of catalogs, which does nothing to help our local economy. The products are not made here, and the catalog companies are not based here. Not a single dollar gets circulated locally.

A change has to start somewhere.

And so, I am putting out the idea that our school districts—or any big organization that operates with taxpayer money—be required to at least ask local vendors to submit bids. If the pricing is within a certain variation and the quality of the work is good, the jobs should be done locally. This might be extended to the purchase of food, office supplies, printing, building and land services, etc.

I would love to see an economy in Sullivan County where young people are encouraged to stay and build. It would be unrealistic to say you can find everything you need here—but there is certainly plenty available.

Shop local (when possible)!

[Van Morrow is the owner of Mountain Bear Crafts in Livingston Manor, NY.]