Tuesday, November 3, 2015

This negative ad could transform her community

Our world is so much smaller than it used to be with the technology that has exploded in the last 15 years.  Remember your Y2K Blackberry and syncing dock? 

It would be hard to be completely unplugged.  For those with limited access to leave home (from new moms to the elderly), its a wonderful way to find like-minded folks and companionship.  There is always an upside to change.  There is also a slippery slope.

As we head into the holiday season, small businesses in your local community will be competing for your shopping dollar against huge multi-million dollar businesses with advertising budgets that conceivably exceed the mom & pop's annual sales.  {The amount of money the Big Box store spends to convince you to shop with them is likely more than your neighborhood independent shop sells in a year; let that sink in.}

There is increased awareness during the next 2 months about supporting your favorite small business, but honestly, this is a year round commitment you should make. Points to ponder:

"What is a Small Business?"  As you'd probably expect, there's not a generic answer and it is defined by the U S Government.  You can find the information, which is broken down by industry, through the SBA.  The qualifying factor for any industry is either average annual revenue or number of employees.  For Hobby & Craft retailers, that qualifier is annual revenue.   A Hobby/Craft Retailer will be considered a small business if the average annual revenue is below $7.5 million dollars.  {Visualize the storefront of your Local Quilt Shop; let that number sink in.}

If you don't support your LQS, let's consider your options.  
  • Physical "Big Box Stores" like Walmart, JoAnn, and Hancock Fabrics. 
  • Big Box Online retailers like Fabric.com (owned by Amazon) and JoAnn
  • Online Discount retailers like Craftsy
  • Online Small Business retailers like your LQS

Why is shopping small business so important?  

Source: CAMEO Report 11/2/11 citing U.S. Small Businesses Administration
Small businesses:
• Represent 99.7 percent of all employer business.
• Employ just over half of all private sector employees.
• Pay 44 percent of total U.S. private payroll.
• Have generated 64 percent of net new jobs over the past 15 years.
• Create more than 50 percent of nonfarm private gross domestic product (GDP).

For more stats on Small Business in America, check out this list from Forbes.

Why is supporting small business in your community important?

You could spend days researching the various ways local small business helps your community.  Since the SBA focus of what qualifies a LQS as a small business is revenue, let's start with looking at the money.

If you've not heard of the 3/50 project, click over & give it 5 minutes of your time.  They lay out the importance right on the home page.

That $50.00 a month is just moving your spending from chain stores to independents.  Hit up the family owned restaurant instead of fast food, buy your sewing needles at the LQS instead of the Mega Mart, buy a scarf at the boutique instead of the mall, buy your veggies at the produce market instead of the grocery store.  It can be small changes in how you look at your spending that will make a big change.  These small purchases may mean little to the Mega Store, but may mean hiring a first employee to the produce market.

Another study says that if everyone moved just $10 of their spending each month from chain to independent merchants the impact on the economy would be a 9.3 billion dollar increase (Source Huffington Post)

If you like having variety in your hometown shopping choices, you have to keep your shopping choices in your hometown.

...besides money...what is the importance?

As a small business, we advertise in high school year books, and baseball programs-yes, they are ads, but seriously, who's shopping from the bleachers; it's a donation that helps those school programs survive.  We donate to school and family fundraisers, whether we know them or not.  We support church groups with materials to help their good deeds go further.  We give because this is our community and we are thankful to give back to the people who have helped give us our dream.  We cherish the relationship for the relationship's sake.

Giving back for a small business owner is also evident when we recycle our earnings into our community.  We shop local and keep that dollar you spent with us circulating in our local community.  That's what the 68% vs 43% in the 3/50 graphic is all about.  We live here.  We shop here too.  

The Institute for Local Self Reliance has created a Top 10 list of reasons to support your local small business.  I like #1 and #2 best.  How many times have you driven through a small town to see block after block of empty storefronts?  Our town is unfortunately like that.    Small business gives your town character.  It can also spur tourism, but local small merchants need to have the support of their neighbors as well as travelers.

What can you do?

Knowing how your buying decisions trickle down, it's easy to see that supporting local small business keeps your money working in your community long after you have actually spent it.  It's the ultimate form of recycling.  Don't Skip the Store.  Support them!  Only with your support will you continue to have choices.

Encourage your local independents (see the "3" in 3/50 above).  You can support and encourage your favorite shops without spending a penny, but remember that pennies add up so Don't Skip the Store.  Follow your faves on social media; like, share & comment on their posts.  You can increase their exposure on social media just by keeping in touch.  

When someone compliments your fabric, tell them where you found it & offer to take them with you next time you go for a visit (quilters love to travel in packs).

Share your ideas.  If you ever thought of an idea for a class, or supply you'd like to try-tell us!

Staying afloat in an online-centric world?

Shopping online is sometimes a necessity, as in a rural area like where I live.  We just don't have options to get everything we need in our small county.  For example this week I needed a POS compatible, portable, bluetooth receipt printer.  My options were online, and online only.  It may be that way for you and your quilting supplies.  Your local shop may be sold out of the yardage you need, or you may not have a LQS.  The point is you have tried to shop small and local first.

It's a competitive world, I get that.  But again you have choices.  If you are in a store and witness a shop owner degrading another business, your opinion of this shop owner is sullied, as it should be.  The same holds true in the online world.   

We found this ad on Facebook, and it spurred this article.  It gave me new resolve in my quest to spend small and local, and a new mantra. #dontskipthestore

We verified this page is owned by Craftsy, though it is operating under a different name.
When Craftsy first came of age, it was embraced by crafting communities because it highlighted the same premise that Shop Small embraces-Support Indie!  It appears they have moved on.

Don't Skip the Store.  Support them!  Only with your support will you continue to have choices. 
If you don't know where your closest LQS is located, there are many online and smart phone apps that can help you.  A great way to search by state is the Row by Row Experience website.  With 2700 participating shops last summer, it's a great, easy to search website.  You may even find new shops in your area you didn't know about!  Pop over today & take a look!


teachpany said...

Excellent article! Great reasons to shop local. I'll be sharing this.

KaHolly said...

Very poignant article. I agree 100%. I will take it to heart, and I hope others will, too!

GranChris said...

I don't disagree with any of this but these shops have to offer good service for their product. I have been in a lot of "snobby" quilting shops in recent years. Lets face it they are going to have to learn to compete with the Internet, it is a way of life. I live 30 miles from the nearest shop. If I am going to go there you better have something to offer. Trying to make me feel guilty won't work anymore. I'm old and I have been there and done that.

Unknown said...

GranChris, Thank you so much for your reply. Though the article did touch on quilt shops, I attempted to focus more on small business support in general. If you choose not to support your LQS, due to their attitude (which I completely agree-a shop must earn your business), I hope you will find ways to support other small business in your town where you feel valued.
I was not trying to evoke guilt in any way. My goal was to encourage.
Thank you again for your message,
Shannon Ownby
Fabrics N Quilts

Unknown said...

Thank you, thank you. Well written and said. Small business owners need to share this information and support each other as well.

Cindy Maki said...

Great article. I have tried to support my local shops but
1. they don't list their phone number and are quite a way from me, so I drive out there and they aren't open.(Even though the door says hours open.
2.They don't have what I want if they are open and are not willing to order it, even if I pay upfront (I think because they are trying to get rid of what they already have-old styles but charging the new prices.
3. Everything is so way overpriced it hurts me to pay their price.
4. We do eat at family resturaunts because we love how they treat us-not a number but a NEIGHBOR.

FiberAntics said...

Great post, Shannon. I start my quilting classes with my stump speech on supporting the LQS. These places offer their space for classes to help their customers learn new things, share ideas and enjoy the camaraderie of like-minded people. If we want these businesses to stay around, we have to support them. Thanks.

lissa said...

Wonderful post! thank you thank you thank you

harleywife57/ Mickey White said...

Thank You Shannon !! Lots of info here . And yes ; we all need to support small businesses of all types . More and more of them are closing down . We need to do all we can to keep them going . Not all LQS charge high prices . Joann Fabric has high priced fabric ; some of it is nice quality ; but not all of it and the price is still high .