The Local Motive
by: Davis Yancy Clegg
The practice and common usage of the phrase “live local & think global” has become far more popular among Americans in the last ten years. With many large corporate grocery chains and other consumer product retailers so vulnerable to hacker attacks along with many having a reputation of poor policy regarding how well they treat and compensate their employees, concerned citizens have slowly moved back towards supporting small businesses in their communities.
It is not hard at all to overlook many of the opportunities we have to support our local businesses. Some services we have gotten so used to using big corporations for are now able to be performed by small business thanks to the availability of technology to everyone. Moreover, services that may not be available directly from your own town can probably be found just outside of your area with a little research. I’ve always felt more comfortable dealing face to face with family owned businesses. The personal touch always instills more confidence for me when making larger purchases. I have most certainly been guilty of jumping on Google and searching for an item only to buy the first thing I see at a decent price, out of shear impatience! Even though I’m getting the price that I wanted to pay, I’m purchasing while paying no mind to where the product has been made, or if I’m buying from a corporate giant when I could get the same product from someone I’ll likely run into at the beach. Convenience is a privilege. We would serve ourselves well to remember this. You wouldn’t be able to confidently vote for a candidate running for President of the United States of America without knowing a few things about them right? How then do we justify opening our wallets to retailers while we are unaware of their ethical practices and policies regarding their operations and employee relations? We simply have to exercise the discipline to take a step back and look at how our actions affect our communities when it comes to where our money is going.
Recently, I came across an article in a well respected financial publication that assessed that 8 out of 10 small businesses fail. 80% is an atrocious number! For each of those businesses, you have to figure a range of 8-60 employees depending on the business losing their jobs 80% of the time. This happens usually within just 18 months of opening the doors. We are left with a fairly black and white question. “Are we going to funnel our wages into these fortune 500 vacuums, many of which have extremely suspect practice regarding corporate spending and cannot guarantee the protection of your personal and financial information from some basement hacker inhaling hot pockets and soft drinks while booking their dream vacation on your Amex?” I don’t think anyone is on board with those risks. So much more prosperity and self sustainment could come from reinvesting that money into the small businesses that exist strictly to serve our communities. I have been fortunate enough to be self employed for most of my working life as a professional songwriter/performer, and more recently expanding to freelance journalism also. In all this time, I have learned many lessons. Some have been harder learned than others. Once I came to the understanding that the consistent execution of an idea is more equally important as the initial conjuring itself, one thing became crystal clear to me. Establishing and maintaining a professional and mutually respectful relationship with those in your market is nothing short of imperative. In order to earn the respect of your demographic and your clients, you have to take the initiative to try and learn their business well enough to be able to rise to any challenge that may present itself. Equally important, being seen and making the necessary steps to establish a viable working relationship not only will raise awareness of your business in your peers’ eyes. Being in the mix and engaging fellow entrepreneurs will almost always be a worthwhile learning experience in helping you evaluate where you stand as a proprietor.
As I sit downtown at Amelia Island Coffee (as I often do when writing), I’m reminded of several business owners and entrepreneurs that have succeeded in so many ways from living local. One comes to the forefront of thought. The Fernandina Beach Market Place. It is a farmers market and takes place every Saturday from 9am – 1pm. Farmer’s markets are a wonderful example of how individual like-minded small business persons can come together and for one diverse locally driven shopping culture. If you haven’t been to the Fernandina Beach Market Place, the historic atmosphere along with music provided by local artists really makes for a pleasant Saturday morning. The market place’s success doesn’t stop there though, there is also now a market dedicated to the arts where local artists and talented artisans alike can display their work to be shared with all. Answer me this. Would you rather do your produce shopping while on a weekend morning stroll through Historic Downtown Fernandina Beach AND received the best price possible for fresh and organic grub, or does sulking through the fluorescent-lit aisles of your local grocery chain sound better? The farmer’s market vendors and other local small business owners in our town and yours depend on our support for their success.
So many people have so many different definitions of success. We see them everywhere. We see them on billboards, and in our boss’ office – framed and hung on the wall – plastered on top of a photograph of a seemingly impossible wilderness feat achieved. Maybe success nothing more than the ability to roll with the punches that are sometimes stronger than the ones you throw. True progress is happening here on Amelia Island. Entrepreneurs have begun unveiling concepts that the island has not yet seen and what better way to expand an island culture than to bring fresh and well-executed ideas to your existing scene. So what are your ideas and ambitions? Get out and share them and take part in the local scene. Without our support, local business becomes space for rent. We can all be a part of the puzzle that creates a community whose bond is unbreakable.
Until next time….
Stay salty friends!