As those of you who are local know the amazing locally owned baby boutique I have worked at for the last almost 3 years is closing after 5 years of business. This has been a decision made with lots of tears, discussion and dread.
No one sets out to open a business hoping it will close, no employee comes on staff of a business hoping for it to go under… that’s not the American dream or the entrepreneurs wish. Unfortunately this is the third place I have been employed that has closed- I guess that’s part of choosing to work with locally owned businesses.
It never gets any easier.
This is painful. Very painful. And so incredibly sad you would think someone we loved had died.
The staff is a family. We have raised our kids together. Loosing your job always sucks- loosing the job you got to bring your baby to every single day really sucks. A lot. We’ve watched each others kids grow up together. Shared in the joys of witnessing kiddos firsts, mourned babies that were lost, answered questions, vented parenting frustrations, helped through breastfeeding challenges, taught each other infinitely more than any parenting class could teach and fought our asses off to keep the business open. As a staff and with our customers.
No matter how frustrating things would be or how bleak it seemed we fought tooth and nail every single day to avoid this happening… that’s what a family does. That’s how we support a community by working to keep it together. The customers I’ve worked with have given me more than they’ll ever know and have shared their lives with me. My son would get excited to see his friends come in to shop and I was grateful for the time to chat and catch up with the Mama. I helped moms through postpartum depression, traumatic birth experiences like mine, babies who struggled to nurse, cloth diaper issues, baby carrier confusion and the parenting journey.
You aren’t going to find that at a big box baby store… Ever.
And so it comes to this. Closing our doors. And people are either responding with incredible kindness and generosity or responding by being angry and mean. People came after the announcement was made with cookies and cupcakes, tears and memories. The beautiful workings of the community we’ve strived to build. The reason why I’ve worked SO hard to create quality events and a great store experience. And people are asking “How can this be stopped?” “What can we do to change this?”
The answer isn’t so simple and can’t be broken down in a blog. No one will ever know the real struggle of owning a small business as the small business owner. Fortunately our CEO was incredibly transparent with us along the journey so we know how amazingly difficult it is in this day and age to survive as a locally owned shop.
It’s too late for us (and I am not going to disclose the exact circumstances of our closure because it’s not my business to reveal) but if you feel touched by what has happened with my experience, if you were a part of this amazing community yourself, or if you have a small business you love- you can prevent this from happening again.
People don’t realize that just one bad month can put a business into a horrible situation. Two bad months can put a business under. That’s it.
That toy you found for 10% cheaper on *the big online shop-from-home website which shall not be named on this blog* or a big box store might seem like a great deal and a great way to save a couple bucks. But when 10 other people order something that same day or go to the box store around the corner instead of the local business and take the sales away from the local business that’s a lot… (fact: I had people order in front of me from said big online website while in my store to save a few bucks)
That day it was cold out and you decided to order from *the big online shop-from-home website which shall not be named on this blog* instead of driving 10 minutes to the local business hurts the local business…
The Christmas you decided to order everything so it would all come together in one shipment, hurts the local business…
It might seem easy and convenient, it might be a little bit cheaper. In the long run it’s harmful. In the long run my 18 co-workers are now out of business and the community doesn’t have a fun place for their children to play and enjoy anymore.
Yes, there are absolutely other factors involved and I’m not saying *the big online shop-from-home website which shall not be named on this blog* or big box stores are the sole reason small businesses go under. But they are the most tangible way you can help the small business you love to stay open. If you want to shop from home online from *the big online shop-from-home website which shall not be named on this blog* check and see if the local retailer you love has a store on there- usually they do. Or call the store and buy something over the phone and have it shipped if you don’t want to go in.
How else can you help? Write positive reviews on Yelp. Buy your friends gift cards. Shop there for holidays. Tell everyone you know. Encourage the business you love to start a referral program. Give out their business card. Tell people how special it is and what you love about them. Volunteer your time to help with marketing. Tell the staff thank you. Appreciate them and how hard they are working to provide you a great, personalized experience. Find local businesses and invest your money and your time there. You’ll end up having a much better shopping experience and make some friends along the way.