NOTE: This is NOT a political post…just a story about local retailers, two moms and a woman entrepreneur!
Small Business Saturday is approaching.
Although it’s sort of a “fauxliday,” it definitely raises awareness of the challenges small business owners face and helps give them a boost for the holiday season.
I used to live in Chappaqua, which many people hadn’t heard of until Bill and Hillary moved there. It’s a very Mayberry-like hamlet, where people drive/walk into town on the weekends to do their errands. They chat with local merchants and each other.
I also served for a while as the President of the Chappaqua-Millwood Chamber of Commerce, which was a great education in local politics. It also gave me insights into the lives and hearts of local business owners and how hard many of them work every day to cover their rent, payroll, and inventory and support their employees’ families too. When people choose to shop at big box stores, local merchants bleed. Although Amazon Prime is so damned convenient, I always try to give at least part of every dollar to a small business. Apparently, Hillary does too.
I used to run into Hillary sometimes at a local store called Petticoat Lane. Seeing a giant SUV and burly Secret Service guys standing guard outside a shop that sells sexy panties and handbags always made me smirk. Once, when she was just running for Senate, she was shopping with Chelsea and Phyllis (the owner) brought me over to say hi and chat. We stood there, just two suburban mothers of daughters, talking about everyday things. (Chelsea, who was much younger at the time, had that “Oh ma…why are you talking to this stranger?” look on her face). Hillary has a great sense of humor (and awesome skin…I was tempted to ask her what face cream she uses, but I restrained myself). Once, Bill helped me shop for a handbag while Hillary was returning something at the counter. Awkward but amusing. To me, they weren’t politicians. They were just a local familly, shopping in a local store.
Phyllis, the owner of Petticoat Lane, is a total sheBOOMer. She owns several stores and sells online too. For a while, she was my company‘s client and she paid me in gift certificates. Not a bad deal. Although I rarely do barter, this one was totally worth it. I worked with her when she moved to a bigger location and saw her business evolve over the years as the community changed. She has consistently delivered great service to her customers, changed-up her inventory to meet their needs, and embraced the concept of online sales as a means of reaching people outside her physical locations. She knows her customers by name (even those who aren’t famous) and makes recommendations, based on their past purchases. Although I don’t live in Chappaqua anymore, I go up there sometimes to shop.
Regardless of your political leanings, remember to think about small retail businesses and communities this November (and always). Shop farmers markets and local merchants whenever you can. Help keep the small and mighty merchants in business!