This morning my daughter and husband arose while the sun was still asleep, while snow still blanketed the earth; they lit out for a new tradition… shopping. They hit the malls, not because the prices are slashed (they really are not), not because they have long shopping list (we don’t spend a lot during Christmas); they hit the road because the trip is “quality time.”
Insert eye roll. The dog and I have our own quality time. We call it “hold up in the warm and cozy bed.”
This year, many small-businessmen (and women) are spreading the word about Small Business Saturday. Tomorrow, small business owners are asking shoppers to step away from the malls, the chains, the big box stores and visit local, independently-owned stores. Of course this is a cause I’m happy to get behind.
Recently, I spoke to a group of authors and was asked, “is your book on Amazon?” Of course it is, all titles are on Amazon. However, traditionally published authors shudder at this question. Do you know that author’s receive zero money (not one red cent) from used books sold on Amazon?
I stood for a moment, speechless. “I like to shop locally,” she said with a smile.
So why then, would I ever send a reader to the local bookstore?
Because it is the local merchant who is the cornerstone of the community. The Indie Bookstore knows what you like to read. The local restaurant treats you like family. The boutique clothing store wants to build a community where everyone can come and shop. Indie Bookstores are personal shoppers. Most local restaurants will cook something (off menu) just for you. Use them. But the relationship goes further than that, locally owned businesses care about you, they really do.
Here’s a revelation: Walmart doesn’t give a hang about you, neither does Amazon. But a small business in your town cares about you, the consumer. They care that your property taxes are going through the roof. A mom and pop’s sandwich store cares that you are on a limited income (because they are on a limited income also). Small businesses employ your children, they pay local taxes, they support the soccer team and hold fundraisers when someone needs a kidney transplant. And for those who think big-box retailers do the same well honey, I am not so certain about that. What I do know with certainty is that I have a relationship, a friendship, with every small businessman and woman I patronize.
They ask about my next book.
They ask about my momma, about the sick, and hungry.
They hold canned food drives.
They collect books, and coats, and toys for the needy.
They pray for me, and for my family.
They have a cake for me on my birthday. (Thank you Cat).
They make me feel like I matter, like I am more than just a number.
They want my business and they show me that I am appreciated.
Those are just a few reasons why I stayed curled up tight in the bed this morning as the beloveds pointed to vehicle toward the mall. Join me in stepping out tomorrow and visiting a local independently-owned small business.
Renea Winchester is the award-winning author of Mountain Memories; True Stories and Half-Truths from Appalachia. Her first book, In the Garden with Billy: Lessons About Life, Love & Tomatoes earned her a SIBA and GAYA nomination. In 2014, Mercer University Press will release her next book titled Farming, Friends, and Fried Bologna Sandwiches. Email her through her website at www.reneawinchester.com