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Politics / Business / Economics > What makes a small business viable? What small businesses do you support?

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message 1: by RandomAnthony (new)

RandomAnthony | 14536 comments What makes a good small business? What makes a bad small business? What small businesses do you support?


message 2: by Heidi (new)

Heidi (heidihooo) | 10825 comments I do most of my gift buying at local stores - I like being able to find one of a kind neato gift items. :)

Customer service makes ALL the difference... and reasonable prices.


message 3: by Heidi (new)

Heidi (heidihooo) | 10825 comments Barb wrote: "Heidi's right. Customer service at small independant businesses tends to be better. Retail and service alike. Hell, I work for a small business, and we're very big on customer service. We can't..."

Exactly... I don't mind paying a bit more for something if my shopping experience is pleasant.

I'm also a sucker for stores with pets - like the cat that lived in the kitchen store where I worked or the finches and song birds in my favorite bookstore.

Also, I like when I go to a store and they have a section of items that are fun and just outside of what you'd expect to find in that store - again referencing my favorite bookstore - they sell necklaces and tree ornaments and candles and magnets and bath luxury items. When I walk into a bookstore, I don't expect to find these things.


message 4: by JackieB (last edited Mar 03, 2011 10:08AM) (new)

JackieB | 49 comments Like just about everyone else, I like the customer service in small businesses. I also like it that you can often get unusual things, which the mainstream businesses don't want to bother with.
I regularly use a local cafe because they produce good quality, reasonably priced food, and they know my name. It's nice to be greated by name as I go in.
I also use a local small bookshop, because the owner is really interested in books. We often chat about new authors, or new books, and she's given me some great recommendation in the past. She will also search for a supplier for an unusual book, whereas the mainstream bookshops have often told me they can't get it. Although I sometimes use Amazon (who doesn't?) I put a lot of business her way because it's such a pleasure to go into her shop and she'll have books which are good, but haven't attracted much mainstream interest.
Then there's the local guy who has just set up as a chocolatier. I went in for some dark chocolate and get an unexpected, but interesting talk about different types of chocolate and how they were made. He had a real passion for his subject. I also helped that his chocolate was out of this world!


message 5: by Heidi (new)

Heidi (heidihooo) | 10825 comments Barb wrote: "hmmm ... interesting about the honey Bun."

I've heard the same thing, Bun... local honey or bee pollen.


message 6: by Sarah (last edited Mar 03, 2011 12:52PM) (new)

Sarah | 13815 comments I would buy everything from small businesses if I could. I like supporting my local economy, instead of the economy of the corporate overlords. I buy everything except for my toilet paper and a few groceries at locally owned places.
There are good and bad, of course. I don't go back to the places that are run by jerks. But if I have twenty dollars for dinner and a drink, I'd rather spend it at a place that will then plug that $20 further into the local economy by buying from local farmers and employing local musicians, etc. And if I have $20 to spend on books or comics or music, I'd rather use it to help keep my local weird store in business than at B & N or Target.


message 7: by Heidi (new)

Heidi (heidihooo) | 10825 comments Sarah Pi wrote: "I would buy everything from small businesses if I could. I like supporting my local economy, instead of the economy of the corporate overlords. I buy everything except for my toilet paper and a few..."


YES! YES! HOOMG, YES!


message 8: by janine (new)

janine | 7715 comments i go to small businesses for good service and personal advice.


message 9: by Lobstergirl, el principe (new)

Lobstergirl | 24149 comments Mod
I buy from the independent bookstores around here, and eat at the local family owned restaurants.


message 10: by Lobstergirl, el principe (new)

Lobstergirl | 24149 comments Mod
I also shop at the local non-chain toy store and occasionally get coffee from the two independent coffee shops. The farmers' market hours are not that convenient for me, but there is a produce store which I think might be independently owned.


message 11: by Jammies (new)

Jammies I buy a lot of things from Etsy, have repairs done and sell gold at a local jewelry store, eat at local restaurants whenever I can, buy all my plants at a local nursery and try very hard to buy the bulk of my groceries at a locally owned chain of stores.

Customer service is helpful no matter what the business, but sometimes it's not as important as other things. The nursery where I buy plants is owned by a husband and wife, and the CS is extremely uneven. If the husband is there, you'll be treated either to grumpy monosyllables or rants about big chain stores. If the wife is there, you'll get a welcoming smile, an invitation to pet the nursery cats and help finding things. Whoever is there, the plants are awesome and the prices are incredible, so I do almost all of my plant shopping there.


message 12: by Heidi (new)

Heidi (heidihooo) | 10825 comments I tend to frequent the local restaurants and bakeries that support local farmers. :)


message 13: by Sarah (new)

Sarah | 13815 comments Heidi wrote: "I tend to frequent the local restaurants and bakeries that support local farmers. :)"

Me too me too me too.


message 14: by Jammies (new)

Jammies Yeah, at least Farmer Grumpy doesn't lecture me on my apparel! Still, his plants are SO good that I haven't lost one yet, and the butterfly bush I bought from him 2-3 years ago is taller than I am.


message 15: by Cynthia (new)

Cynthia Paschen | 7084 comments Right you are!! Also Bun, the big box stores tend to sell us plants that are wrong for our zone. In Iowa we are zone 4-5....some of the Home Depot-type stores try to sell us stuff that only overwinters in Missouri or Arkansas or thereabouts. Crazy.


message 16: by Cynthia (new)

Cynthia Paschen | 7084 comments Jammies wrote: "Yeah, at least Farmer Grumpy doesn't lecture me on my apparel! Still, his plants are SO good that I haven't lost one yet, and the butterfly bush I bought from him 2-3 years ago is taller than I am."
OH,,, I am so jealous of your butterfly bush. Mine live for a few years, then winterkill. Must plant them closer to the house next time.


message 17: by Jammies (new)

Jammies SisterCynthia, does it get that cold in Iowa? I've got 8 or 9 butterfly beesh in the garden, and three of them, including the hyooge one, are nowhere near the house.


message 18: by Félix (new)

Félix (habitseven) Jammies said beesh.


message 19: by [deleted user] (new)

The horror.

::covers ears::


message 20: by Félix (new)

Félix (habitseven) You should!


message 21: by Jammies (new)

Jammies Larry wrote: "Jammies said beesh."

It's the plural of bush!


message 22: by Cynthia (new)

Cynthia Paschen | 7084 comments Sister Jammies, we are zone 5, safest to plant zone 4. things like butterfly bush are best planted in a protected area, close to the house foundation or a big fence. Otherwise, they winter kill. I have a friend down the street with a huge butterfly bush, so once they're established they hang in there, apparently.

What planting zone are you??


message 23: by janine (new)

janine | 7715 comments *commences beesh dancing*


message 24: by Félix (new)

Félix (habitseven) I love beesh.


message 25: by [deleted user] (new)

Hmmmmmm.


message 26: by Jammies (new)

Jammies Cythia, I'm zone 5, with a soggy yard at the bottom of a steepish hill and a LOT of deer snacking on plants. Fortunately, they don't eat buddleia or gladiolus, two of my favorite plants.


message 27: by Helena (new)

Helena | 1058 comments I like shopping at local farmer’s markets, bakeries, butchers etc. I try to keep my money local- but it can sometimes be too expensive for certain items. The organic butcher shop near my house comes to mind. I really like to buy organic- but recently I’ve been buying my meat at the big grocery store, I just can’t afford the meat there lately. I grow most of my own vegetables and freeze many for the winter. I was able to keep my swiss chard growing into December this year!


message 28: by Cynthia (new)

Cynthia Paschen | 7084 comments Oh Helena, I had great success with Rainbow Chard--it is gorgeous and long-lasting. You'll have to try it. I think I need to grow some kale this year, have you tried that?


message 29: by Helena (last edited Mar 06, 2011 05:52PM) (new)

Helena | 1058 comments I’m definitely going to try kale & rainbow chard. This was my first year for a vegetable garden and it really went quite well. I planted a few too many habaneros and cherry tomatoes, but it was nice to share :)

I’m in Canada, southern Ontario- so my winters are a bit more mild until January or so. I was very surprised that my chard lasted that long. I covered it with a plastic tarp that I tented with a bit of wire to keep the worst of the wind & snow off and it was fine.

Flowers are something all together different. I kill every flower I plant.


message 30: by Lobstergirl, el principe (new)

Lobstergirl | 24149 comments Mod
Potbelly's had signs up today saying they weren't serving any tomatoes because so many tomatoes had been killed in frosty conditions. Hmm.


message 31: by Jim (new)

Jim | 6485 comments Where I went for lunch Friday had a sign due to the increase in their produce costs they were no longer including tomatoes on their burgers, but for $.20 you could get a slice.


message 32: by Helena (new)

Helena | 1058 comments I was in a food court at the mall the other day and a lady beside me was ordering a burger- I heard her arguing with the cashier about paying extra for a slice of tomato. I thought that chain just made you pay for your tomatoes!


message 33: by Cynthia (new)

Cynthia Paschen | 7084 comments BunWat wrote: "Kale is incredibly cold hardy. I've harvested kale into January.

Oh please note, I mean into January in New York state, not in California. Clearly you can harvest kale in January in Californi..."


LUCKY BUN! I'd love a good tomato in the winter.


message 34: by Cynthia (new)

Cynthia Paschen | 7084 comments Helena wrote: "I’m definitely going to try kale & rainbow chard. This was my first year for a vegetable garden and it really went quite well. I planted a few too many habaneros and cherry tomatoes, but it was nic..."

Flowers are not hard. Pick native species and tough as nails daylilies. They come in so many colors--they are my favorite easy flower.


message 35: by Lobstergirl, el principe (new)

Lobstergirl | 24149 comments Mod
I just realized that the salad I got at Potbelly's yesterday was supposed to have chicken on it and didn't. Aargh. Fuckers.


message 36: by Sarah (new)

Sarah | 13815 comments Lobstergirl wrote: "I just realized that the salad I got at Potbelly's yesterday was supposed to have chicken on it and didn't. Aargh. Fuckers."
Were you only eating it at the time of the post, or did you eat it when you bought it, and only have the lack of chicken dawn on you later?


message 37: by Lobstergirl, el principe (new)

Lobstergirl | 24149 comments Mod
Sarah Pi wrote: "Lobstergirl wrote: "I just realized that the salad I got at Potbelly's yesterday was supposed to have chicken on it and didn't. Aargh. Fuckers."
Were you only eating it at the time of the post, o..."


I bought it, brought it home, ate it, and then the next day it dawned on me I hadn't eaten any chicken. It was still a tasty salad, just no chicken on it. But I had paid for the damn chicken.


message 38: by Phil (new)

Phil | 11626 comments If you'd like to support a small business, you're welcome to support mine.

We got a warm fuzzy today when we received an e-mail from Amazon.com. They said our sales numbers and our customer service placed us in the the top 25% of Amazon merchants for the 2010 holiday season. It didn't come with any cash or a reduction in fees, but it was nice to know just the same.


message 39: by Sarah (new)

Sarah | 13815 comments What do you sell, Phil?


message 40: by Arminius (new)

Arminius | 1034 comments Yes, Phil. What do you sell?


message 41: by Arminius (new)

Arminius | 1034 comments It is no doubt customer service that makes the difference. A friendly staff will always draw customers. Big stores often lack this.

A small internet store I recently started to shop from (and I love Barnes& Nobles) is http://www.historynetshop.com/books-g...


message 42: by Phil (new)

Phil | 11626 comments Sarah Pi wrote: "What do you sell, Phil?"

We sell art for kids rooms, family rooms, dens, etc. Each piece is backlit to create a cool effect. Most are sports related at this time, though we sell a lot of peace signs and we recently introduced a T-Rex.

http://www.funshadows.com

Our pictures aren't great yet, and we're just now building out our shop, but for a new business working out of my garage we've been very successful. The business has paid for itself since its third month of existence.

We're currently looking for a web designer/developer to assist us in establishing our own branded site.


message 43: by Arminius (last edited Mar 11, 2011 11:31AM) (new)

Arminius | 1034 comments Phil wrote: "Sarah Pi wrote: "What do you sell, Phil?"

We sell art for kids rooms, family rooms, dens, etc. Each piece is backlit to create a cool effect. Most are sports related at this time, though we sell ..."


Phil,
Mother Army blocked your website, I will get private paid internet access in a couple days and check it out.


message 44: by Phil (new)

Phil | 11626 comments BunWat wrote: "Very nice, Phil, I wish you great good fortune with it."

Thank you, Bun. It has been a lot of fun for us, and we've been fortunate that people have been enjoying our work.


message 45: by Maxine (new)

Maxine | 47 comments My husband and I owned a small junk store for awhile. It started out as an antique store but it kinds devolved. Frankly, though, junk was more fun and the customers were nicer. Running an independent store is a lot of work and expense and we finally closed down after about 10 years. However, the experience made me appreciate small stores and now I try to frequent them as much as possible especially since I hate The Mall. Owning your own business is very rewarding but it has to be a labour of love because it probably won't make you rich.


message 46: by Sarah (new)

Sarah | 13815 comments Ooh. Maxine wrote 'labour.' We've been infiltrated by another Canadian!


message 47: by janine (new)

janine | 7715 comments a canadian with a chipmunk av? is she barb's long-lost sister?


message 48: by Jim (new)

Jim | 6485 comments Be careful Maxine, Barb goes for the tails!


message 49: by Annie (new)

Annie (agrunwe) I love little places with a great atmosphere, where you can relax. Friendly, helpful staff is a must, too.

Like Heidi, I love stores with pets. I love walking into a store and seeing a fat, friendly dog. Especially when it's a fat Labrador or golden retriever... I love them.

But having said that, a business gets major points if it lets me bring my dog in, too. If it's a cafe or something, I like sitting outside with my dog. Bonus points if they give my dog a bowl of water, free of charge!
I guess that goes along with having a laid-back, friendly atmosphere, though.


message 50: by RandomAnthony (new)

RandomAnthony | 14536 comments Small business Saturday is approaching...

http://smallbusinesssaturday.com/


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