THERE'S a scene in the Monty Python And The Holy Grail that shows a dead collector walking through the filthy streets of 10th Century Britain crying: "Bring out your dead."
John Cleese walks out to meet the dead collector with an elderly man slung over his shoulder and is about to throw the body on the cart when the old man calls out: "I'm not dead." Regional retail outlets might well be that old man.
For years there have been obituaries written mourning the death of the traditional shopping strip and yet local small businesses still survive in the main street and shopping centres.
That's not to say it's an easy existence, with fierce competition from online retailers and the ongoing impacts of drought creating challenges that must keep many shop owners laying awake at night.
More and more shoppers are buying their clothes, shoes, groceries and even motor vehicles from the comfort of their lounge rooms and at times that suit them rather than the store owner, but they have not managed to kill off local shops just yet.
In fact, if there has been a silver lining for local shops from the internet revolution it has been the need to focus on their own points of difference to determine just what it is they do better than everyone else and how they can do it even better.
For most, the answer is in the superior customer service afforded by a face-to-face relationship with the retailer.
Most shoppers are still drawn to the lure of well-trained staff who know the products they are selling and who are ready to provide prompt, polite and professional service. And then there's the knowledge that supporting local retailers is also a way of supporting the local community.
Many stores in the region have been in business for generations, employing local people and giving back to local organisations.
They are the backbone of the community and they have a real stake in Cootamundra's future. They sponsor local sporting teams and donate to local charities.
Our region can't do without their support and those businesses can't do without our support.
At a time when the resilience of local retailers is being tested more than ever, it's worth taking the time to consider what our city would look like without them.
Shopping online might save you a few dollars in the short term, but what could be the long-term cost to Cootamundra?