Why LOCAL LOVE is important!
I talk often about supporting local business and try to post about it often, calling out my favorites on social media both professionally and personally. I know some people who follow may wonder why I do that since “it has nothing to do with my businesses”. I do it because I know how important it is.
Do you know the difference in locally owned independent business, franchise businesses, and big box corporations?
A brick-and-mortar is a traditional business model where the retailers, wholesalers, and manufacturers deal with the customers face-to-face in an office, a shop, or a store that the business owns or rents. My business Escape Artists War Town fits under this model. We have some one on one time with the customers but the experience is booked online and then the room is completed without someone physically in the room with you.
A High Touch locally owned independent business, such as my business Lush Art, is a model which requires lots of human interaction. The relationship between the brand and the customer has a huge impact on the overall revenues of the company. The companies with this business model operate on trust and credibility. While the initial booking is done online, we are there very hands on during the event and a lot goes in to prepping the event before you arrive.
For both businesses I create my own marketing materials, ads, posts, rooms, paintings with help of my staff.
A franchise can be a manufacturer, distributor or retailer. Instead of creating a new product, the franchisee uses the parent business’s model and brand while paying royalties to it. They are spoon fed what to do for marketing and have less say over creation of the product or service.
A retailer sells directly to the public after purchasing the products from a distributor or wholesaler. This could be locally owned (such as Abreanne’s or Southern Crush boutique) or franchise (such as Dress Barn).
A big box retailer is a retail store that occupies an enormous amount of physical space and offers a variety of products to its customers. These stores achieve economies of scale by focusing on large sales volumes. I think we all know who they are.
I recently talked at a local middle school for Career Day. Since my businesses are so niche I focused mainly on telling the classes about the importance of shopping and supporting locally owned businesses whenever possible. One of my examples is if it is Taco Tuesday and you want tacos instead of rolling through Taco Bell, go to Tacos and More or Taco Shed. Both of those are local, independent businesses. They have created their own menus, marketing, branding.
After one of the classes a sweet boy came up to me and thanked me for what I was teaching. “My parents own Tacos and More and it does make such a difference to our family when people choose us over fast food tacos.” I got chills. It is so true. Does the owner of Taco Bell know you when you come in? Does the owner of Taco Bell know your order, ask about your kids, wonder how your mom is doing? NOPE.
In the same vein, at Lush Art we create a new and exciting calendar each and every month for our customers. Each of those paintings we have painted with our own hands. We curate the designs in such a way each month to provide a variance of options created directly for our audience based on their preferences. We put literal blood, sweat, and tears into building the businesses from the ground up. We created our ideas and through A LOT of trial and error are finally to a point we feel pretty comfortable with what we are providing and doing. Do we still make mistakes? Sure. Do we still create ideas that fail and bomb? Yep.
I still happy dance for every order. I still celebrate every good review. I still despair and get upset over every failure and every bad review. I take things personally when I shouldn’t but it is because I have put SO much of myself into this entrepreneur lifestyle.
Independent, locally-owned businesses recirculate a far greater percentage of revenue locally compared to absentee-owned businesses or locally-owned franchises. In other words, going local creates more local wealth and jobs.
I hire local artists to create paintings. I pay them better than any other studio that I have come across, in the entire world. I am on multiple groups and each time pay comes up I am giving back more to my employees than anyone else. It creates a longer lasting relationship between my staff and how they take care of our customers. We have lower turn over and can create a more home-like atmosphere because someone new is not always at the helm. We love getting to know our customers, finding out what they like and why they come to us.
I love seeing what our staff can bring to their families with the supplement income from the businesses. Aside from Heather (the manager) and myself each of our employees work other full time jobs or are going to school. We get to be the passion project that also brings extra income to all of these households. Each are there because they WANT to be, and love our mission of making art accessible to everyone.
So here are some other examples of ways I try to choose LOCAL LOVE over chains and franchises.
I use a local accountant and bookkeeping service, Works Bookkeeping and Payroll where the owner does my taxes, payroll, and answers my questions instead of some big company exec that I don’t know.
I use a local cleaning company, Robins Commercial Cleaning, where the owner cleans for me instead of some chain who sends different people every week.
What is important about these two businesses? I am doing business with people I know, like, and trust. They are owned by women, who live here locally in our community. It is empowering women to provide for their families on a schedule that works for them and they in turn put it back into the community. $68 for every $100 stays in the community when spent at a local business. When spending the same at a non-local business like a national chain, only $43 stays in your community. This is important!!
It is America, free will is always there for you when you make choices. Next time you think about buying, shopping, eating please think what choice you can make that will make the most impact on your community.