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I feel bad that I missed yesterday’s post and the promise Writing Wednesday.  For those following my story Lessons Learned, I will post the next part this afternoon.

I took yesterday off because my son had an appointment but it was also an excuse to spend the day working in the store.  We are officially opening Monday with a pre-opening sale this Saturday.  It’s been a lot more work than I expected – take some time to thank the small business owners for all the hard work they put into their business.  I will say that I have a new respect and understanding of how hard it is to run a business.  You would not believe all the fees and costs involved.  Our phone is twice the price just because we’re a business (don’t even get me started on the internet).  That credit/debit card you swipe to buy your pack of gum probably cost the store more than the gum.  I now have a guilt complex about using my debit card since I have an understanding of what it costs.

But it’s all a labor of love.  Shop owners do what they love and they want to provide a service to the community.  It’s given me a chance to really understand how much love has to go into these small store.  You don’t put in this much work for something you just want to do.  It has to be a labor of love.

Now dear reader you may not live in the Palouse region of Washington, that’s cool but I’d like to ask you to do me a favor anyway.  I’d love for all of you to show up at my store and shop but I know that’s unreasonable.  What I do want everyone to do is take the time to shop in small local stores.  They may be a little more expensive than the box stores but I have to tell you a secret about that – when I first started Sara’s Soaks (my lotion business) I wanted to get items wholesale.  It didn’t take long before I found that I could buy items cheaper at Walmart than wholesale.  The reason is they buy so much inventory that the deals they get are amazing.  Smaller stores can’t get those deals.  They can’t compete but there are very good reasons to buy from smaller stores.

You get better customer service (most of the time).  Business owner’s have bad days, it happens.  They are under a great deal of pressure so bad days happen but more often than not they are sharing what they love with you.  They know their products because they hand-picked each and everyone.  They know how to use them.  They understand the community.  They listen to you.  If you are looking for something, they may help you find it.  I will say I’ve stumped a few but that didn’t mean they didn’t give me awesome service and I had a great experience even if I walked away empty handed.  I’m always up to referring my friends to their store.

Buying from local small stores boosts the economy.  Yes, Walmart sells a good story but they get a lot of breaks.  They get deals all over the place and they don’t really pass them on.  Yes, their prices are low but you have to ask yourself are you really getting your money’s worth?  I’m not talking manufacturing because that’s a whole other subject.  I’m talking about the fact that many box stores have reputations for screwing over their employees.  Do you get customer service?  I can’t tell you how many times I have gone into the store in the evening to find one cashier working (and I am not shopping at midnight) and a line a mile long.  Trying to track down someone who cares long enough to point me in the direction of an item can be tough.  Just last week I was in a store asking for help with a product.  A woman pointed me in the direction of where to find it as she was helping another customer.  She called another employee to help me and they never showed up.  I stood looking at the product for over 5 minutes with no help.  It’s not the end of the world but it was frustrating and that’s how it is in box stores.  Sometimes a local store gets busy and the service declines but they make up for it with their knowledge.  Just try asking someone in the produce department of Walmart if their corn is GMO-free and watch their head explode because they can’t even begin to figure out how to answer.  That’s not to say you don’t get knowledgeable people in a box store but isn’t it nice to know you can walk into a store and have someone know about all the products and actually be interested in what you are doing with the product?

I keep getting off track – can you tell customer service is important to me?  My husband will be running the store and his customer service skills are Olympic gold worthy.  He’s just awesome.  I make him go to all the craft fairs with me.  I don’t suck at customer service but I’m not great at approaching people and he just strikes up conversations all over the place.

So this Saturday, if you are in the Palouse, stop by the store, get a treat and shop.  If you are not here, that’s okay – stop by a local small business and support them.  Let me know where you vote with your dollars and here’s hoping that I’ll see lots of you on Saturday.

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