This blog was writted by Tom Shay, co-founder of Independent Retailer Month Worldwide and is a fitting start to the blog-a-day for Indie Retail!
“Travelling between my two home towns, you pass through communities that can be defined as small, smaller, and very tiny. Within these communities you will see signs of those who believe in their community; not just by their words, but by their actions and their money.
By opening a small business you are saying “I’ve seen a need and I am going to help”
Not unique to these small communities, these believers can be found in large cities and mid-size cities; these believers will step into action anywhere there is a number of people who are looking for something. In a community or neighborhood, you will find these individuals and the results of their efforts.
These are the people who have opened a small business. This person, who has chosen to open that small business, is saying to their community, “I see a need and am going to help. I will create that business, take the gamble, and help my community.”
The business may be a pharmacy, a DIY store, a grocery store, a newsagents; it may be a shop that sells clothes, shoes, toys, bicycles, electronics or any number of items that people use. The business could be a hairdresser or the person that cuts the grass or landscapes your lawn. Independent retailers takes on many shapes and sizes…
Local business can tailor their offering to the needs and wants of the local community
The business they chose to create will be unique as the products and services they offer are tailored to the wants and needs of those that live in the area. The owner of this business will ask the residents what they are looking for and how that business can make the lives of customers more enjoyable. The business is likely to change as the community changes as well as when the residents develop new wants and needs. The owner of the business is easily adaptive to the community because that business owner lives in the community.
Investment in the community goes far beyond merely opening a business to serve the community…
The person owning that small business is also going to be active in their community by participating in the merchants association. This person will be among the first to join in any effort that makes the community better for those that chose to live there. It may be creating a park, supporting a youth sports team, doing something for the children attending the local schools, or helping a local house of worship; this person will be there to support and help their community. Their investment in the community goes far beyond the business they have opened.
The independent retailer is a champion for the community. This person can find the good in everything; they are proud of, and a proud member of their community.
Opening a business is a gamble; a gamble based on a belief…
Another word for ‘belief’ is ‘gamble’, for opening this business is truly a gamble. There is never a guarantee that the new business in the community will succeed. The owner expresses their belief by taking their personal money and investing in the creation of the business. The money may come from what has been saved over the years; the money may come from mortgaging or selling their home to make this investment in the community. It is an investment that says, ‘I believe in this community’.
There is no guaranteed income for a business owner – an entrepreneur…
Unlike those that have jobs working for a business, these people have no guarantee; no promise of a paycheck at the end of the week. They are doing what they do because they want to help their community. They do it because they are very talented individuals that have a strong sense of being an entrepreneur to their endeavor. Owning the business is a challenge they thrive on. You can see the enjoyment of the challenge in the smile they greet their customers with as the customer comes into the business. You can hear the excitement of their business in their voice as they visit with the customer.
Doing business with this independent retailer is sheer enjoyment because that retailer truly appreciates and enjoys their customers; their neighbours.
As consumers within a community, there is no responsibility to shop with a locally owned business. It is not ‘the duty’ of residents to support the business. Instead, the locally owned business works hard to invite individuals to visit the store; to be greeted and waited on by their fellow residents.
This shopping experience will be one that is unique to each locally owned business – you won’t find the same products, services, staff, or atmosphere in any other business. It will be like walking through a forest and listening to all the birds that live there. What a dull world it would be if all the birds sang the same song!
This is what the independent retailer brings to the community.”