This post has been quite some time in coming. It’s something that I’ve been thinking about a lot and something that has taken a toll on me since becoming a brick and mortar shop owner. But it has to be said and I have to tell you why.
I’m going to be 100% honest. My brick and mortar business, as of right now, is in some choppy waters. There are many reasons for that, but one of the biggest reasons is that we need more enthusiastic customers supporting small business. Now let’s not confuse this with my online shop which is doing marvelously. I’m proud to be able to offer supplies, notions and fabrics to customers worldwide. It’s one of the reasons I felt that opening up a brick and mortar would be the next step. Crazy thing is, these two types of businesses could not be more different! It’s been a huge wake-up call for me, on so many levels. I’ll be honest about that too – it’s almost broken me. Yup. There has been so much fallout – personally and professionally – from becoming a brick and mortar shop owner that I’ve been right on that edge of jumping ship with basically my entire life as I know it right now. Oh my goodness! It’s HARD!
It being hard for me though is not the reason you should support the small businesses in your area. Those problems are my own. However, unless we want the world of apparel sewing commerce to be eaten up by those big box chain stores the world over, we all need to become part of the solution. I can’t tell you how many times in a day I hear customers come into my shop and say, “Gosh, you have such lovely fabric. Why doesn’t anyone else carry these types of fabrics anymore?” I think that’s a great question. But I think the more important question to ask, in my humble opinion, is “Why do we keep those big box stores in business even though they don’t carry the kinds of fabrics, notions and supplies that we want?” Now, believe me. I know that so many of you live in an area where those big box stores are the only stores. And granted there are many things still that we as a small business are unable to offer that the big box stores can offer, just by virtue of being so big. Doesn’t mean I, personally as a shop owner, am not working to improve that. Just means that I can’t provide everything right now (like buttons….). I don’t have the full answer to all of this right now, but supporting the little guys first will give us a fighting chance at survival.
Over the fall, I was on a You’ve Got Mail kick. So apropos considering what I was about to face! If you’ve never seen the movie, it sheds light on the exact situation I find myself in today. The idea that small business – one that is driven by service, knowledgeable staff and quality product – is not what we as a society want. We want the cheap. We want the affordable. We want the discounts. We want everything! No matter the cost! I have to tell you what the cost is.
In this scenario, the cost is, my shop will close. That means that everyone who comes to us because they want actual bridal lace or actual lace in general, or they want actual silk (not polyester labeled as silky) or they want actual wool, or they want cotton that is actually as smooth and lovely as silk, or fine linens or high quality double knits and knits will be forced to go to those big box chain stores and make do. Sure there are a few diamond in the roughs that can be had there, but what is that compared to an entire shop that is a diamond in the rough? Not only that, our expert advice and help will not be available. Our classes – which are far more than just making a pair of ill fitting pajama pants – will not be available. Our service will not be available and instead you can stand, fuming, in line waiting for your fabric to be cut at one of those big box chain stores.
I’m going to say it again. Please, please support the little guys! Support us! Give us a chance first and I can promise that you won’t be disappointed. You may not find exactly what you need from us, but we’ll have such a great time scheming and giving you some expert guidance that you’ll come in again, just by virtue of knowing that we not only deliver the goods, we deliver them with a smile and a sewing tip!
Now weigh in! Give me your feedback. I’ve given you mine, from the viewpoint of a slightly strung out shop owner. I only ask that you please be respectful – but hey if you don’t agree with me here, tell me why!