The concept of supporting family run businesses has disappeared as society has become blind to real people being behind our mobile devices. Business closings have surpassed start-ups(click to read)which should be a major concern since small businesses have long been the backbone of a strong economy.
As loyalty to local businesses has declined, so has the sense of community. Disappearing is the uniqueness and creativity we have ingrained in our spirit. How do we bring that back?
As I travel across America it is difficult to tell the difference from one city to another. Every major road has the same set up; A Lowes or Home Depot, a pharmacy on each corner, a Best Buy and pet store chain, and the corporate owned chain restaurants built around the familiar clothing stores fronted by a slew of fast food no health joints. To eat at a local flavor restaurant requires going to the front desk of the chain hotel to find one. Finding them behind the neon lights has become impossible and I will admit to just giving up and succumbing to the robotic standards being forced down our throats.
The way to bring back community is to first seek out our local businesses and make an effort to support them. While in my travels I can do a little by enjoying and expensing the unique pallet tastes at a diminishing Mom and Pop establishment, it has little impact on the daily need for the regular flow of visitors that is crucial to their survival. They need the regular rush traffic that we have been programmed to give to the name-brand chains. They need us in the slow seasons to drop in and support via what we were going to spend somewhere.
It may sound corny, but the biggest benefit you gain is in knowing you helped someone you know, personally. We allow price, convenience and familiarity to dictate our decision making processes. We are served by robotic systems in all facets of business. Stop and think for a moment, how many restaurant owners do you know by name personally? How often do you visit their establishment? Do you know the name of your pharmacist? florist? dry cleaner? hardware store owner? If you don’t, stop and introduce yourself to the owner. They would love to know you and have you as a regular customer. You might even make a new friend or two.
It is nearly impossible to do the same at a chain, in fact you are lucky if you even catch the name of the waitress let alone the manager (unless you have a complaint and need to chase them down). Try finding someone to help you find a replacement screw that fits your antique cabinet. The local hardware stores (if you are fortuate enough to have one still in your town) keep in stock the unique items the chains refuse to carry as there is not enough volume for them to justify it. And they have knowledgeable people willing to help. While you might have to pay a dollar more than the volume discounter for some items, provide some income to the smaller establishments to make up for the things you won’t be able to get some day if they are gone. As the big chains wipe out choice, eventually they inch up the prices eliminating the supposed savings.
Revenue to your community and taxes staying in your area are another key benefit to supporting local businesses. Guess where the profits go when you shop at Walmart? The billionaire Walton family is not going to build a home, spend their profits in your town, pay property taxes and support other businesses in your town. The local business owner does though. The small businesses are the ones who pay for the advertising signs on the school ball fields that help pay for our local children to play sports because they care about the local community. The chains don’t bother as they know they have your mindshare already spent on national ads.
We can change this tide but only if each of us Average Joe’s makes a concerted effort to support the local owners. Many are struggling because of excessive government controls and rules. While it may cost you a few dollars more to eat at a non-chain we must consider the long term success of smb’s and how it will stifle future generations, if we do not support them now.
Next time you plan a shopping trip or evening out, consider how your dollars spent will help support your local business owner and community. And P.S., hit the like button on their Facebook page and let your friends know about your friend that owns the place right in your town.
Like the small business environment churches are suffering because a lack of loyalty and commitment to one place. While many Pastors absolutely hate to talk about money (believe it or not they do) it is a necessity for survival. Did you know the Bible teaches the concept of supporting the local preacher (See 1 Corinthians 9 as one example) ahead of any other giving? That’s right, if you are a Christian the first dollar you should ever give out of your paycheck is supposed to go to your local church. Despite how chivalrous it may seem to send money to help the underprivileged in Haiti or even in your own community, the first fruits should always go to your local establishment first. Only after making that first ‘regular’ gift to God should you ever help out other causes. Some may not totally agree with my interpretation (I have a study on this topic to discuss later), perhaps it is worth evaluating especially as finance teams make decisions on expenditures.
Many local business owners understand the concept of giving a portion of their profits to their local church. They likewise, if following Biblical standards, have the opportunity to give back what God has given to them and blessed them with their businesses. Imagine the concept of me spending $100 at a restaurant and the local business owner that attends my church turns around and gives 10% of it back to the same church I attend? If everyone had the same mindset, church financial struggles would be reduced greatly.
Do you know who the small business owners are in your church? Are you supporting them by using their services and visiting their establishment regularly? Do you tell your friends and neighbors about this person who is not only a friend but has a similar mindset as you (hopefully) in caring about helping other people to be what God has made them to be? Do you pray for their success?
In Acts 2:42-47 it was stated that the early church shared all things in common and there was ‘no need amongst them’. Today the church is far from providing for itself, let alone for every member in its membership to be beyond the poverty level (not counting all of those that came for help but found the were not enough resources to go around). Yet in the seats of our memberships are people working hard with small businesses that get almost no help or even referrals to their business from the church they attend.
Some churches really get this, many do not. This article describes how one church group has used Biblical principles to the maximum(click to view) While not advocating turning our churches into marketplaces (which produced a righteous anger by Jesus where he turned over tables in the temple) it certainly makes sense to utilize gifted business callings of individuals that God has chosen to bring to your house. Why not help bring additional blessings to them and support at start up mode to those working hard to be an example of caring for their families and giving back to God?
We all have many ‘great ideas’ we want to do to help other people, but the limiting factor too often is money. I believe God has given us a brain to make things happen in this world. While He easily could drop a $billion on a churches doorstep, He does not force His power upon us, nor take away the opportunity for us to use the talents He gave us. It would take away from the free will/choice He established.
Now you have a little education on how to bring change to your community and help your church in ways you may not have been aware of before. What will you do different the next time you head out for dinner?