The above picture may be a little outdated for our generation but it's a solid reminder to me of the days when there were ONLY small businesses in America. We knew the owners/employees by name...they knew us by name. It was a place to talk about your life, make lifelong friends and thrive together. These times weren't always easy but they were simple and maybe just a little happier...
Warning: I may be on a soap box in this post... this is a subject I am very passionate about...you can blame it all on my roots.
I can remember as a small child, Daddy would take me to the local pharmacy on a Saturday morning that had a fountain and we'd have breakfast and/or a chocolate malt (Conrad-Marr in Yukon). We would often venture into his favorite locally owned gun store in Oklahoma City (Fred Baker's Outdoor America) where he knew every employee by name and they knew him. When working on a household project we would do business with the locally owned hardware store on Main Street. Doing business with other small businesses was instilled in me from a very young age. As our hometown grew...small businesses started to fade away as larger chain stores moved in. I can remember Daddy 'boycotting' the self-checkout lanes at Walmart (well before he started boycotting the store altogether in effort to get back to our roots of supporting local businesses). Puzzled I asked him why--as a kid we thought it was cool to get to ring your own items up-- he explained that this was their way of eliminating paid employees which affected our community while improving the bottom dollar of the corporate office located in another state. From that moment on I got 'it'. I began to make a concerted effort as a young adult to support locally owned businesses FIRST before I stepped foot in a chain store. As a mom, I encourage this on our two young children as my husband and I both are small business owners and hope to see our support come full circle.
It’s proven that small businesses are the heartbeat of America. When you do business with a locally owned business- most of that revenue stays in your community. When you do business with a chain store- most that revenue is sent out of our state to support the corporate office. The owner of a local business uses their revenue to do business with other local businesses and they donate to local causes in addition to employing local citizens. The CEO of a chain store in another state is using that revenue to pad their pockets and buy a third vacation home while hiring barely enough people to run the location preventing you from receiving ideal customer service.
It’s been weighing heavily on my mind lately as I’ve heard more conversation or seen an abundance of posts on social media regarding another small business closing their doors and customers curious why. While there are many factors to a business not surviving such as poor management, a bad business model or too many duplicated businesses in a general area it comes back to ONE THING--- RELATIONSHIPS. Like a marriage, relationships are a two way street. As humans, it’s in our DNA to crave positive relationships and human to human interaction (although technology has altered this a bit). That being said it’s always puzzled me on why people complain about bad service at a big box store yet they keep doing business with them. When you do business with a locally owned business you often have the opportunity to build a RELATIONSHIP. The employees and owner(s) of that local business become your friend—you’re invested in each other. Think about the last time you went to a big box pharmacy—how long did you wait? Were you greeted with a smile? Did someone ask how you were feeling? Did the pharmacist step out behind the counter to ask how your kids are? Unless you’re doing business with an exception to the rule chain pharmacy the answer to most of those questions is probably ‘no’. If no… how did you feel when you left that pharmacy? Frustrated? That frustration plays a part on the rest of your day and maybe week. Flip that and reverse it—You walk into an independently owned pharmacy and are greeted BY NAME with a smile and often wait less than 15 minutes for a brand new prescription to be filled, you’re asked about your day and kids…and although you’re not feeling well you left that locally owned business feeling better already because of the RELATIONSHIP you have with that business. While relationships are only one reason you spend your money at a locally owned business—those relationships are also the reason why the doors are able to stay open at those local businesses. So, my internal response to those asking why a business closed is, “When was the last time YOU did business there? Did YOU make an effort to build a relationship with them? Did YOU refer your friends to do business there even before your friends posted to Facebook asking for a recommendation of an XYZ business?” While I’m guilty of shopping on Amazon and at big box stores too—I first and foremost try to purchase what I need or use services I am looking for from a locally owned business FIRST. Then, I use Amazon and chain stores as a last resort. There must be a balance between the two but I can promise one thing—you’ll see your community prosper with more locally owned businesses supported by you and your family!
Unsurprisingly, most businesses are focused on the bottom dollar and steep margins rather than being focused on the good they can do for their vendors, retailers and customers first. As a company, Mollycoddled Hash Slinger’s first priority is to use as many locally sourced ingredients as possible and when not possible we source our ingredients, supplies and services from other small businesses. Yes, this can affect our bottom dollar as a company but the relationships we are building are irreplaceable (quality over quantity). We feel our vendors care as much about us as we do about them. The same goes for our retail locations. You’ll NEVER find our artisan confections in a big box store. We want to drive our customers to do business with small business owners across Oklahoma and the U.S. We truly believe that when we put the needs of our relationships first, it comes full circle for our company. YOU are important to us. From the bottom of our hearts and the suppliers we use-- THANK YOU for your support.
I will leave today’s entirely too long of a soap box post with this thought—the next time you need to purchase groceries, prescriptions, a gift, clothes, shoes, sports/hunting equipment or decide which bank, mortgage lender, pest control company, coffee shop or restaurant to do business with—ask yourself—‘Are they locally owned?’ ‘What is a local alternative I can try instead of this chain?’. I can promise you this-- we'll all prosper because of it. We must stick together as a community, as a state and as a nation.
With love and support,