Small Businesses Are Defined By Experiences

by Christopher Paul on December 7, 2012

Harry Marks, from A Curious Rat, talks about his growing support of small businesses. He writes:

A small business isn’t always defined by what it’s selling. It’s often defined by the experiences, the people and the community that surrounds it. There’s a joy that comes from a small business owner recognizing you and saying, “Hey, Harry, got that new Lawrence Block book in. I set a copy aside for you,” or “I noticed your tire needed a patch job while I was doing your oil change, so I took care of it for you. No charge.”

Completely true.

I try my hardest to support small businesses whenever I can. Whether it’s my breakfast place, coffee shop, pharmacy, bar, grocery market, or mechanic, I find the service and satisfaction I get far exceeds that from what I receive from chains or big box stores. I know the names of the people that work in each of those examples and they know mine. In some cases, my family knows their family. That’s not to say I haven’t gotten to know the baristas at my Starbucks near work – and who knows what the service is like outside of New York City where the Wal-Mart is the only employer and store in town; I imagine the works can be close with the patrons, too. But whatever the level of interaction and personal touches might exist, it’s rare and (for me) not as fulfilling as talking to someone and finding out they went out of their way for me.

Unlike Marks, the rarest of times I buy I book (I’m more of a news, blog, Twitter reader), it’s in the iTunes Book Store. The notable exception are kids books for my son. I generally go to Books of Wonder where they really know their stuff (and I get my wife a cupcake from the Cupcake Cafe inside) or Jazams when I visit home. In both cases, however, I feel the owners and local staff know what their materials and can help me better than most clerks at a chain.

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