Tomorrow is Small Business Saturday. I guess the idea is something like this; after a day of frenzied shopping mostly done at big box stores or online, we pay homage to the flip-side of capitalism, the little businesses in our hometowns, the startups, our friends & neighbors.
On a national scale, our economy needs the big guys. But their impersonal nature often makes them easy targets for criticism. How many people do you know who are vocal in their dislike of Wal-Mart, yet can consistently be found there? There is often slight unease or guilt attached to supporting the big chains, yet in the end, most of us still give them our money. They just make it really easy to spend. If they didn't, they wouldn't be big.
I want to suggest an alternative to big-box-shopping guilt. The solution is to be aware as possible of the supply chain behind what's in our shopping carts. Know where your money is going & spend to support what matters. We don't always have time or money to shop around or make several stops for our shopping list. So we go big.
My challenge is this; use this day (or another free day in the near future) to really find out what your local businesses offer. It's often surprising what a town like Sparta has available. Being aware & staying conscious of what you can buy from local businesses makes it easier to shop local.
As a culture, we need to regain our love for community. We need more person-to-person interaction & less impersonal transactions. We need to experience the beauty of a local economy working together. This isn't about never shopping online or at big-box stores. It's about identifying as a community and putting our money where our mouth is. It's about going home when we shop.
Even if you can't make it to a local shop this Saturday, take some time to think about the people & places who are your local community. Come up with new ways to participate in the unique economy of your hometown.
Creating a new website is mostly storytelling. The story of who we are as a company, and what our aim and ideals are. This presents a bit of a dilemma. How do we tell a story which is the right blend of fact and ideals? We've all seen company stories so idealistic and feel-good it's hard to tell what they really do. But a company without ideals is a company without a future (or at least a very boring company). Our ideals are what make us unique. Whether we talk about it or not, we all have a reason for what we do. The danger of over-focus on ideals and vision is the very real danger of believing our aim is our reality. We live in and act out of a false narrative.
Our goal is to allow our experience and our customers to shape our vision and ideals. That way, looking at who we are and what we do amounts to the same thing as looking at our vision. As we launch this new website, and as we move forward, we request your input to help keep us grounded, real, and effective.