Shopkeepers are Friendly!!!

I followed my own advice last night.  My husband and I decided to do some Christmas shopping in the old town Glendale shopping district, specifically Catlin Court Historic District.  Our first stop was at Cameo Candles, Bath & Gifts run by Bernie and Cindie Boyle.  Their young son greeted us as we entered the shop and asked us if we had ever been there before.  We told him that it was our first visit, and he promptly told us that all their candles are soy candles made on the premises by his dad (who you can see working in the back room if you’re lucky).  His mom makes all the bath products and holiday decorations that are available.  We were encouraged to visit each room of their little shop, which we did.

Isn’t it fantastic to meet the person who has actually created the things that you purchased?  What a wonderful feeling to know that you’re contributing to the upbringing of Bernie and Cindie’s young son?  I do regret not getting his name, but I will the next time I visit.

Our next visit was to Bears and More, which has so many adorable gifts for young children, as well as a few unusual things for adults.  My husband managed to find a needle felting kit for me ( I know, I’m not supposed to know what I’m getting for Christmas, but needle felting is something I’ve never done and I was encouraged into it by one of the owners, Valerie, who was as sweet and welcoming as she could possibly be).

I mentioned that I wanted to bring attention to the fact that more people need to think about shopping local and she laughed and said, “What do you need? I’ll tell you where you can get it!”

The point is that before we decide to just run to one of the big box stores, just because they’re convenient or a little less expensive, we should look to see if we can meet our needs locally.  The point is to keep more of our money inside our own local communities.

Our last stop in Catlin Court was at The Open Door and The Open Door “Too” where we met Daphne and Russ.  I mistook them for a married couple because Daphne was telling Russ where to display his items.  My mistake!  They’re actually very good friends and laughed at my assumption.  Another wonderful experience talking to shopkeepers, and people who either make the items that are for sale, or are responsible for placing them in the store.  I have been looking for an indoor fountain to help me sleep at night.  At The Open Door, I found beautiful copper fountains, each one a work of art, reasonably priced, and something that I would never find at a big box store.

The Navajo artwork was stunning.  Each piece is numbered and guaranteed to be authentic.  None of these items have the words “made in China” on them. Instead, they are made by hand, one at a time, and a tribute to the history of this part of the country.  Without these types of items, we would lose track of our heritage.

Do we want to be an identical twin of our neighbor?  I certainly don’t. I want to be an individual, and as such, I want to purchase some of the things that speak only to me.  I don’t want to be told what to buy. That is, in essence, what happens when a computer does the inventory ordering for a big box store.

In a small store, you find things that are created in a very limited number. Original works of art go for a great deal of money because there is only one of them.  Limited editions are still collectible because they are limited.  When you make 100,000 of an item with pending orders for even more, it becomes common, and not as desirable.  It makes it inexpensive…but that’s about it.

Please try to find a local business to support, and do it often.  Without recognizing that we’re bleeding our country dry we will die a slow death.  If we stop the flood of money out of our communities and pledge to keep more here, we will turn things around and make a difference.

Black Friday

Is it worth it?

Most people are worried about buying gifts.  But a few folks on Black Friday got hurt.  How much is each injury is worth?

I was out and about on Black Friday, but I spent time at distant coffee shops, and at a restaurant opposite a viciously busy mall in Scottsdale, Arizona.  Black Friday was apparently a success. The last number I remember seeing was over 52 million dollars spent on the day after Thanksgiving.

Do you mind if I ask, how many of those dollars were spent in your local community?

I’m still very much interested in getting people to spend money in their local community.  I’d rather know that 68% of my money was staying in my local community.  As a result, all the money I spent on Black Friday was spent at local stores and restaurants.  I can’t support sending my hard earned dollars out of town…and more importantly, overseas. I had a scone and a cup of tea in a local coffee shop, then I had lunch with three friends at a local restaurant.  Before I was done for the day, I bought a couple of plants at a local nursery (fall and winter planting in Phoenix is my favorite!). That’s it.

While I sometimes spend money on the internet, focusing on local businesses, especially this time of year is critical to keeping our economy moving.  Where are you spending your money?

Would YOU be willing to spend $50 at a local business at least three times a month?  If so, I WANT to hear from you!  This is the only way we are going to get things to change. I’m tired of seeing all our hard-earned dollars going to countries overseas. I know far too many people who can’t find a job because their jobs have been outsourced.

Isn’t it time to bring things back to the U.S.? I’m looking forward to hearing your words of wisdom.

Client/Customer Retention

It appears to be another “slow” season…

What exactly does that mean?  For some, it means that weather or circumstances prevent clients/customers from visiting your place of business.  Right now we’re between the holidays (when people typically spend more money than they’re comfortable spending) and Tax Day…April 15 (18 THIS YEAR!!!)

With this economic environment, a typical slow season is even worse now.

You can do what you’ve always done…say, “Well, it’s the slow season…hopefully we’ll get an increase in business soon…hopefully.”

However, most people who wait for that sudden change in the number of people coming in are usually destined for disappointment. Unless you do something BEFORE the slow season, you may be putting up GOING OUT OF BUSINESS signs during the slow season.

Take a look at your business for the past year or two (or five!) and establish when you are “slow”. The gift shop business that we run has several slow seasons.  After the holidays, we see a very slow season between January and Easter (that’s a LONG slow season, folks!). Then we have a little slump around June into July, and then another one during late summer, end of August until the beginning of November.