It wasn’t that long ago that a businessman with a local retail business could make a living, raise a family, hire employees, and contribute to local community causes. These retailers were the foundation of downtowns and local neighborhoods. Clothing, sporting goods, tools, building materials, office products, the list goes on and on.
Those days are not over, but it gets a lot harder every year, add to that the recent supply chain shortages and work disruptions. The pandemic has shown how easily our economy can be interrupted. It’s time for the rebirth of small businesses.
Currently, these retailers face competition not only from large retail stores, but also from internet sales. The retail landscape is changing faster than many small businesses can keep up with. It is no longer just a question of offering a product that can be offered at its fair value. Discount is not the answer, as small retailers are unable to sell at these prices and keep a store open.
So how are small retailers going to survive? By providing a quality customer experience and building relationships in their community. Take the time to get involved and support community activities. Those who engage in community retention are the ones who will define themselves from a faceless online point of sale.
Responsibility is then transferred to consumers. “Think local first” must be a mantra. Consumers need to engage with local businesses, get to know what is available in the local community. Take a stroll downtown or a local store and see what they have to offer.
The majority of small traders are people who support local sports teams, donate to local fundraisers, spend time creating local events, participate in DDAs, and join the chamber of commerce. Small businesses must remain the cornerstone of communities, but they cannot do so without community support.
So as we move into the holiday season, take the time and think local first. In the long run, your investment will come back to you ten times the short term savings from buying online or elsewhere. It may take longer and cost a bit more to start with, but the end result will have a much bigger impact on health and growth in the home.
Small Business Saturday will take place on November 27. Take advantage and participate in this initiative for small businesses. Go shopping in city centers or local shopping districts. There you will find the heart of the community and maybe something special for people who are hard to buy for someone on your gift list.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Bob Hendrickson is the Executive Director of GINCC. He currently resides in Negaunee with his wife Laura and daughter Sierra. He enjoys mountain biking, skiing, fishing and hunting, and family time.