The issue: Small firms are giants in the economy.

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Our position: We should patronize small firms and businesses whenever possible at home.

Bigger is better evolved with the times.

Take groceries, for example. In the early days, storeowners hired clerks to fetch goods off the shelves or out of containers for customers, who waited at the counter and paid.

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Generally those store owners wound up clerking a good bit themselves. The practice was arduous at best. It was labor intensive.

In 1916, Clarence Saunders started the self-service grocery store in Memphis, Tenn. It was called the Piggly Wiggly.

Up until 1920, customers could get their groceries and other items, take them to the front of the store and pay for them. These stores didn&8217;t carry produce or meat. Butcher shops and the vegetable stand or cart still prevailed.

Then, in the 1920s, combination stores added perishables.

The Smithsonian Institution posits a former Kroger worker, Michael J. Cullen, opened the first supermarket in New York in 1930. It was called King Kullen. Thus, began the grocery chains of supermarkets.

After World War II, when suburbs popped up all over the nation, supermarkets joined them, adding the parking lot and convenience.

But it was Cullen who had the slogan, &8220;Pile it high. Sell it low&8221; that influenced the future.

Supermarkets gave way to superstores Wal-Mart in the U.S. and Asda in Great Britain that offer food, clothing, books, hardware, toys and a host of items under a roof.

At times, these giants that pile high and sell low seem daunting.

Yet the Small Business Administration puts this bigger is better for us economically into perspective with a few facts: In 2001-02, the last year with figures from the SBA, businesses with fewer than 20 employees increased employment in the U.S. by 852,074. Small businesses represent 99.7 percent of all firms. Small businesses create more than half of the private nonfarm gross domestic product. They create 60 to 80 percent of the net new jobs.

A majority of businesses in Selma, Dallas County and the Black Belt are owned by just regular people, who are creative and productive. They are American entrepreneurs.

That&8217;s something to think about &8212; our neighbors, keeping money in local circulation, and keeping alive good old American Main Street &8212; and helping keep healthy the backbone of our area.