Publisher’s Perspective

Chad Koenen

Murphy’s Law states that if something could go wrong it most likely would. 

For parents that means a kid who has been home all day will tell you at 5:30 p.m. that their ear hurts on a Friday night. Never mind the fact that it hurt off and on all day, but they failed to mention that fact until after a clinic closed. 

A vehicle will get a flat tire in the dead of winter at night when the wind is blowing hard, opposed on a 75 degree day in the heart of summer.

If an appliance goes out it will most certainly happen unexpectedly on the weekend, and thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic almost four years ago, you still can’t just go to a store to purchase a new refrigerator very easily. The last example may be a bit specific, but that was the scenario Dani and I faced the other week when our fridge stopped working without any signs of it going bad (I must not have passed along the message to this appliance that it should warn us when it wants to quit working). 

Since we needed a fridge right away, and my idea of just having an icebox outside for the fall and winter didn’t pick up traction with my family, we began searching high and low for a fridge we could get quickly. Our daughter had a volleyball tournament in Pillager the next morning and we thought we could just go to a big box store and pick up an appliance to bring home that day—you know like the good old days of 2019. 

We would typically try to purchase an appliance or item locally if possible, but since many of the locally owned stores in the area were closed on the weekend, we decided to see what we could find from stores in a larger town.

What we were surprised to find was that you cannot easily go to a store, purchase an item and bring it home that day. For the better part of four hours after our daughter’s volleyball tournament we went from store to store, only to find out that these big box stores no longer carried most of their appliances in stock and we would need to wait for anywhere from 6-8 weeks for a fridge. 

When pressing some of the employees about why it would take so long to get a new, yet basic appliance, I was told that the COVID-19 pandemic was to blame for a backlog in making appliance. 

On a side note, when are we going to stop blaming COVID-19 for all of the problems in our world today? It’s been almost four years and we still can’t construct an appliance for stores to have on hand, nor can we quickly get some of the building materials necessary for construction projects. However, if you want a bun toaster that also can cook your hot dogs, a gadget that can shape your eggs into a cube or an iKettle that connects to your smart phone so you can boil the kettle from an app, have at it as they are all readily available.  

As we continued our search for a new appliance we began looking more locally to see what we could find. After all, the reality of the situation was that our assumption that you could simply purchase an item and take it home that day, was no longer a reality. We searched locally and found basically the exact fridge we were looking for at the same price as a big box store at D&D Appliance in Detroit Lakes. The big difference, they actually had appliances on hand that you can pick up that day and bring home—talk about the good old days.

Like most locally owned stores, we even received much more than just our purchase as we received information about taking care of the appliance and what to do if we wanted to get rid of our old fridge. By Monday afternoon we had our new appliance at home and had it operating just a day later. 

We write quite frequently in this publication about the importance of supporting our local businesses. Buying items locally helps these businesses to stay in business, which also keeps people in town to support other businesses like a grocery store, gas station, dining establishment and more. The local purchase also helps that business to pay for employees, support local groups and non-profits and just provides an extra boost by having a reason for people to come to town. There is a ton of research available about how much a dollar gets spread around a community when it is used at a locally owned business and the numbers are astounding. 

After all, you may be surprised as to what you can find in town. Oftentimes prices at locally owned businesses can compete with many of the big box stores, especially when you figure in the cost of driving to another community to purchase the item. 

While I still haven’t found a bun toaster that can also cook a hot dog in any of our communities, I do know that you can purchase most of the items you need right in our own back yard. So next time you need a new appliance, vehicle or any other big purchase, make sure to find out what is available locally, before taking your business out of town. 

As we head into the Christmas shopping season I would encourage everyone to purchase as many of their items from locally owned businesses as possible. Inflation has affected these stores as well and they need your support as they prepare for 2024.