May 24, 2007

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Publisher's Note: Time for Target to give
By†Jody Reese

More than 40 hairstylists are competing in this yearís hair competition at the Verizon Wireless Arena. Itís a fashion show-like presentation of over-the-top hairstyles. These are not creations youíd see walking down Elm Street in Manchester or, for that matter, Broadway in New York City. The hair creations use all sorts of construction material, extensions and, in some cases, lights.

Now in its third year the contest has grown to include hair artists from several surrounding states. And why not ó the top style this year will win $7,500 in cash.

Not only is this a great show, but the money raised will go to the Elliot Breast Health Center. Tickets cost $35 each and can be purchased by phone at 868-7300 or at the Verizon Wireless Arena box office.

Two weeks later the Downtown Jazz and Blues Festival will be held on Hanover Street in Manchester, June 15 and 16. It promises to be a great show and with more street-food vendors than last year. Tickets can be purchased from the Palace Theatre box office on Hanover Street or by phone at 668-5588. Proceeds go to benefit the Palace.

A week later, the Rock ní Ribfest will be tearing it up at the Budweiser plant in Merrimack with a family-oriented rib-eating celebration. Rotary Club of Nashua West puts on the event and donates the money earned to various area charities.

One thing all these events have in common is volunteer workers and the sponsors that help with in-kind donations or give money. Looking over who sponsors these events itís clear that locally owned businesses make up almost all the sponsors.

Big retailers, such as Wal-Mart and Target, are nowhere to be found.

Part of the reason is that they make it hard to ask for money and then frequently say no. Unfortunately, that means locally owned small businesses continually pick up the cost of local nonprofits and their many events.

Thatís good and bad. Itís good that we still have local business people who value community and the groups that help support that, such as the boys and girls clubs or YMCAs. Itís bad in that these groups must rely on fewer and fewer small businesses as they are replaced by larger big-box stores.

These big-box stores offer us consumers a lot of advantages. They are open long hours and have historically offered cheaper prices than a lot of smaller competitors. But they fail us in their lack of support for local charities. While some do offer some support, they make it so time-consuming that volunteer organizations donít have the energy to keep on them.

Iím not sure how, but there needs to be a way to encourage these retailers to step up and support the community that buys from them.