I know what you might be thinking: If you are in business it’s all about making money and you’ll make more money if you’re aggressive and competitive. While that might hold true for larger “big box” companies that isn’t necessarily the truth for retailers in smaller communities. At least it doesn’t have to be. As a retailer in a small town I know there is another way: Do you and still support other local businesses to raise the profile of ALL the businesses in the community.
As a retailer in a small town I truly believe that “Buy Local” means you also have to “Support Local”. This doesn’t just mean shopping as much as possible at locally owned businesses (but yes, please do!), because as a fellow business owner it also needs to mean supporting their growth and entrepreneurial ambitions.
Not everybody who reads this will agree, and that’s okay. But it’s my blog so I’m going to keep writing. 🙂 I’m going to lay out my top 3 reasons for why I think that the expression “rising tides raise all boats” is really important in a small town retail environment.
More businesses attract more customers: I’m not just a retailer and local shop owner, I’m a consumer. I know this to be true from personal experience. One of my favorite things to do when I have a day off is to take a road-trip. Do you know where I go? Places like Niagara On The Lake and Stratford (also my last name, BTW…). Why? Because there are so many great shops and restaurants! Do you know where I don’t often take road trips? To places that only have one or two nice shops. Density matters! Density attracts! Density equals growth for everybody!
Businesses that collaborate are stronger: Recently Crew’s Quarters engaged with another local retailer, The Pie Guys Bake Shop, to sponsor a children’s Pumpkin Carving event. We did it for two reasons: Because pumpkin carving is awesome, and because together we could get more people out to the event than if we did it alone. By collaborating, by working beyond our own self interest, we could get more people out. That’s a lot more smiles and a lot more business for both of us. I also belong to a group called “Boss Babes” spearheaded by a local company called Buck Marketing . It is a collaborative gathering of Port Colborne female entrepreneurs who get together to celebrate each other as business owners. That’s it. Pretty cool.
It’s Kind: Small towns are known for being kind places. Business owners, parents, educators, and politicians, we are often all the same people, a hybrid mix. There simply aren’t enough people to get away from wearing many hats. In a small town, kindness matters because you know and interact with nearly every resident/business owner/teacher/retailer! There are many ways to earn a buck, but the ones that are best, in my view, are the ones that come with kindness and respect. The means do not justify the end unless both are kind.
If we really live the “buy local” slogan, if we exemplify what it means even as business owners, we’ll all come out ahead stronger and better prepared for the future. Can a business grow all on it’s own? Sure. But no person is an island unto themselves, and no business has to be either. We’re stronger together. Let’s make sure we all remember that and help each other to grow! #supportlocal