Shopping out of town

Thumbs Down: We urge local residents to remember how important it is to support their local merchants. There's more to making purchasing decisions than price. Instead of sending money to Amazon where your hard-earned money disappears into a giant black hole of nothingness, do business at your local Target, Walmart, Fleet Farm, Menards or a locally owned store where your dollars will stay in the community, support local jobs and help the local economy. And start doing it now before it's too late. Fergus Falls just lost its Target store. JCPenney closed 138 stores nationwide last year. The parent company of Herberger's, Bon-Ton, has as filed for bankruptcy protection and plans to close 47 locations in 17 stores this year. (Herberger's Clearance Center in Maplewood is the only Minnesota store that's on the list of closings.) Whenever a local business closes, a piece of the community disappears. Don't let another storefront go dark. Buy local.

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A level field for businesses

Thumbs Up: It's good to hear that the Supreme Court is considering to revisit a ruling that allows online sellers to escape from paying state sales taxes. It's not fair for online stores to have such an advantage over brick-and-mortar retailers that are doing business in a state. As U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar noted, "From a mom-and-pop store on Main Street to Target and Best Buy, businesses in Minnesota can't compete if they don't have a level playing field against online retailers," Klobuchar said. "Unfortunately, the Supreme Court's previous ruling placed Minnesota businesses at a severe disadvantage that not only costs our state money but unfairly picks winners and losers among businesses." A bipartisan measure, the Marketplace Fairness Act, would change that. It would give states the authority to require out-of-state businesses, including online retailers, to collect sales taxes if a state meets certain requirements, including an easily identifiable tax rate, uniform tax-base rules, and centralized filing and remittance of the sales taxes withheld.

Advertising omissions

Thumbs Down: A reader sends a thumbs down about advertisements that offer "buy one, get one" - or BOGO - incentives but fail to mention the "buy one" price or what the actual percentage off is. "I'm not going to call for prices," she said. "What's happened to truth in advertising?" She's also annoyed with trip advertisements that don't include the price. "Come on, people!" she said. "We want to know what we are paying!"

Fishing for a good cause

Thumbs Up: Here's a "thumbs up" to Alexandria Industries for organizing another "Fishing for the Cure" Ice Fishing Tournament that raises money for the American Cancer Society. The event, which will take place Saturday, Feb. 17 on Smith Lake, has grown by leaps and bounds. At the first tourney 11 years ago, 112 people fished and raised $620. Last year, 912 people participated, including 152 children age 12 and younger, and more than $38,000 was raised. This year, organizers are setting their sights even higher, hoping to raise $50,000. You can help them get there by buying a $10 ticket at Alexandria Industries, Christopherson Bait, Elden's Fresh Foods, Paul's Small Engine, The General Store in Osakis or through This is a family fun tournament with tons of prizes. There's also a raffle that includes a grand prize of a 2018 Ice Castle fish house valued at $13,985. Get ready to catch some fun and contribute to a very good cause.

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If you have a suggestion for a Thumbs Up/Thumbs Down, email it to or mail it to Echo Press, P.O. Box 549, Alexandria, MN 56308.