Small Business Saturday Thoughts
By Kip Tabb –
Today is Small Business Saturday–sort of the local retailer’s answer to Black Friday. Which is unfortunate in many ways . . . unfortunate in that there has to be an answer to the steady inching of Black Friday into Thanksgiving . . . this inexorable chipping away at the one day that truly should be a celebration of family.
The latest big box strategy to open on Thanksgiving evening is but the latest oozing creep of the commercialism of Christmas–not that Christmas hasn’t been commercialized for well over 200 years. What makes this latest round of commercial creep objectionable though, is the remaking of the image of Christmas season from one of joy and giving to a picture of flying elbows and trampled feet.
Which brings us back to Small Business Saturday. I like walking into a store and being greeted. I like it when someone takes the time to answer my questions. When I search for a gift for the people I care about, I look for something unique–not always, of course. There are times when nothing will substitute for buying your daughter an Iphone or some other form of electronics.
I understand that. I understand that there is a place for the big box retailers; I am fully cognizant of the role they play in keeping prices down and competition at a high level. And I am very aware that our wallets benefit from those competitive pressures.
But it would bother me if we lost the ability to speak to one another in the common language of commerce–a language that is much more than “That’s $8.98,” followed by a rotocall “thank you.”
The language of commerce is the time taken to help a customer find what they are seeking; the time it takes to ask about their day; and it is the simple effort that goes into a sincere thank you.
There are so many reasons to shop with local businesses that listing all of them would take the better part of a book, yet ultimately it’s about these simple things–or perhaps that one thing. . . . that genuine thank you that shows such a profound respect for the individual.
There is no evidence that respect for the individual customer is a part of corporate culture. It does, however, seem to be a part of the community’s way of doing business and it is, perhaps, the most important reason to shop local.