The state of the economy has hit Richmond on several ways. Not only have many lost their jobs but so many small businesses have gone out of business. The Downtown Short Pump and RichmondBizSense sites are really great ones for keeping up with the status of our small business community.
I have personally been on a mission to try to patron small businesses over corporate business in short pump. After all, with most corporate businesses, we do get the benefit of jobs but most of the revenue leaves our local community. By spending your valuable money with local business owners (whether it be a mom and pop, a larger locally owned business (ex. Ukrops) or even a national franchise owned by a local franchise owner, your money has a much higher likelihood of remaining within our community.
So, in theory, I am all for BUY LOCAL. However, from a practical perspective, I often feel these conflicts because what if the corporate business serves your needs better or just makes you feel more comfortable?
In just the past few weeks, I have noticed a few examples. For example, I like the desserts at Whole Foods Market better than the ones at Ukrops. Or, when I needed to buy a tennis outfit, I stayed away from the local small business because I did not want the pressure felt in a local boutique store to buy something right away. I prefer the non-pressure and anonymity of Dicks or using the Internet.
And then when it comes to locally owned restaurants in short pump, my husband and I are at a lost of where to eat because of the recent trend of many locally owned restaurants going out of business. One of the main factors for restaurants is to offer a regular experience to their customers but when local restaurants cannot afford the lease payments long enough to build this presence, the corporate restaurants win by default. Their business model is based on providing a consistent and reliable experience time over time.
Despite these challenges, I do have a sincere interest in helping our local businesses to get more of our business. I think the true answer is for consumers to try a little harder (we have this rule that when we eat out, 50% of the time it is with a local business) and for the small businesses to do a little more to address some of the reasons why people choose to go to the corporate outfits. One example is trying to communicate more with customers. . . whether it be through email lists, the Internet, or just sending out a customer loyalty discount every now and then (this is what Ann Taylor Loft does and it gets me to the store every time!).