Chamber Chat: What You Don’t See
I’ve been thinking a lot about what goes on behind the scenes in various situations, probably because the Chamber is planning eleventy-billion events and initiatives right now, and unless you’re on the board or an Ambassador or have seen me all but sprinting around town you probably don’t realize how much work goes into each one of them.
Then I think about our small business community, and as often as we ask you to shop and spend locally, I’m not sure people get how incredibly important this is. So, I thought I’d share with you some things you may not see, or may not see the full view of, in a small business owner’s life. These will not be easy or pleasant to read, but it’s the reality.
- Each time a small business owner in Eagle Grove sees that their friends and neighbors bought something online or out of town that could have been purchased here, it makes them wonder what they’re doing wrong.
- When your charitable group or club or your kid’s sports team asks local businesses for donations and sponsorships for events, it’s actually all groups, clubs, and teams that ask them. Every season. Every year. It gets expensive, but small businesses love Eagle Grove so they dig deep as often as they can.
- You know how a chain restaurant or store or online mega market sometimes messes up your order or purchase and you are frustrated, but shake it off? They have thousands or millions of customers, so they can take a hit–AND you end up going back. When you don’t give local businesses, who mostly operate with just themselves or maybe a few employees, the same grace (they actually deserve more, but let’s start with the same), you are doing a HUGE amount of damage to a business that maybe has a few hundred customers. You’re asking the most out of those with the fewest resources. I’m not saying that consistently poor quality should be overlooked, but a mistake here and there or, worse, unrealistic and unattainable expectations of perfection leading to an unsatisfactory experience, that then gets broadcast around town is absolutely out of line and unnecessary.
- When someone opens a small business, it is usually their life’s passion. They love it. They can’t imagine doing anything else. The dream is to make it big and make a big impact on their own terms doing what they love, but in reality, most owners don’t even take a paycheck. SOMETIMES FOR YEARS.
- If a business goes under and you say something to the effect of “I always meant to go in. It looked like a nice place” you are partly to blame for the loss of this business. When you can go try a new thing in Des Moines or Fort Dodge or anywhere but right here, and you couldn’t even make it in to check out the business of someone you probably see at the grocery store or at church, that business failed partially because you didn’t support it.
- And lastly, a small town will not survive without small businesses. Yes, we have great large employers who keep jobs in town, and we love them, but without small businesses there will not be life in a town. People will leave. Eventually jobs may leave. People think it’s the large employers that keep a town vibrant, but as far as quality of life goes, it’s the small businesses giving us our essential services, things to do, places to go, and an identity as a community.
I could go on…and on…and on, but then we will all be depressed and it’s the dang holidays. So instead, let’s enjoy our community, remember to be kind, and for goodness sakes, shop and spend in Eagle Grove. As the meme says, “Shop Local. Save Local. Read that again.”