Sunday, January 12, 2014

"There are two kinds of people,

 those who do the work and those who take the credit. Try to be in the first group; there is less competition there." - Indira Gandhi 

2014…so many treat January as a new beginning every year, but, having taught school for all of my adult life, this is mid-year for me…September is my new year, but that aside…let us talk about the small retail business world as I have done at the beginning of every year.  The independent shopkeepers work hard to keep their stores vibrant.  In many cases, only 2 or 3 people are part of a small brick and mortar business.  It saddens me to see the demise of the small shop as well as the closing of co-ops or to have them turn into a mismatched display of whatever can be found at yard sales or repainted.

I saw a sign on the way home the other day-- Going out of business after 59 years…the Mom and Pop shops are closing because the son and daughter, in many cases, do not want to be bothered.  HGTV, DIY, and its various counterparts in Pinterest , Instagram, and digital have spawned a new format.  Rather than go out physically to touch all the senses, sight on a screen is the new wave of retail.  Of course, many realize there are issues…delivery and identity theft ranking high this season at the famous “Tarjay”. 

Even though statistics show that 90% of retail is still done live and in person, I guess it is just the changing times and the nostalgia of a passing year, but I do think for all the social media that we have we are not “social”.  Not to mention, one appreciate the craftsmanship of a handmade birdhouse, but can you really admire the workmanship in a flat photo? 

Can you smell the scent of a candle? 

Run your hand over the patina of a wooden bowl? 
Consider the work that goes into repurposing a vintage belt into a cuff bracelet?  
Many small shops have unique cards not produced by a corporation but by small business people who create, print, design.  
These are handcrafted cards...not mass produced.  Just a gift tag with some little treat would be truly appreciated by anyone.

...or how about lavender for remembrance...we have carried organic lavender for years...local when available or from Provence...as well as lotions, soaps, and culinary salt and sugar.


Or, consider Clover Market…a Pennsylvania juried show, it features American crafters and vintage/antique purveyors.  
From a recent article…"Starting with a winter pop-up a couple of seasons ago, Clover Market’s winter edition moved to a full-fledged market venue at the 23rd Street Armory in Philadelphia, attracting big crowds last January."  It returns for 2014 on Sunday, January 19, with regular hours 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. A VIP pass will get you early admission at 9 a.m. and other goodies.

Perhaps the current economy will revive Mom and Pop or Mom and Mom or Pop and Pop shops.  If there are no jobs, create them.  I know I look for things that are made in the USA or imported fair trade items.  I had to laugh at one business who calls the regular imports “Crap from China”!
The big boxes have far more buying power than the person with the small shop down the road, but that small shop owner spends his or her money in the town.  Keep in mind the independent shop owner does not keep all the money he or she makes either.  We pay self-employment taxes...no one is kicking in half the Social Security or benefits.  Granted, not everything can be purchased at a small shop, but why not think of a small shop for gifts or even treats for yourself?  Why not look for that unique accent piece locally?   The smaller shops can keep the inventory changing.  We went to the Philadelphia Gift Show this past week, and it is funny to see products that were in only one or two booths showing up in ten times that number this year.  It is hard to come up with different products because wholesalers/retailers will copy each other, but a small shop can retool much quicker than a large box.

So, look forward to some fun new products to make you feel better all over!  We keep it changing, and we will not let our basic bones break, but we will give you variety!  As Leonardo da Vinci wrote,
"Life is pretty simple: You do some stuff. Most fails. Some works. You do more of what works. If it works big, others quickly copy it. Then you do something else. The trick is the doing something else."

1 comment:

The Cinnamon Stick said...

Constant change is our goal always....but I will admit that Pinterest and others have given me some really good inspiration - being in this business for 34 years (29 of having a brick and mortar) sometimes you feel like you have seen it all...but ALWAYS someone, more clever than yourself, comes up with a new idea and for that I am grateful. Adapting .... key word instead of copying!! Great post Susan!!