First off, I wanna thank all of you for participating in our ‘80s Week Anniversary celebration. I hope you’ve had as much fun as I have. See, we love giving back to you guys, and what better way than with some fun trivia from the time of our roots? (Did you know some of that stuff still exists?) But there’s more to it. This week has been a celebration of our 27th year in service to middle Tennessee and Knoxville. You know what keeps a local business around for that long? It’s you.
If you don’t believe me, here’s some proof of the impact small business can have with the support of its community:
- Local Economic Stimulus. Your dollars spent in locally owned businesses have three times the impact on your community as dollars spent at national chains, because we often make purchases and partnerships with other locally owned businesses. This keeps the money circulating in your community. A real example (among many) is one of our favorite vendors, Swiftwick, which is owned and operated in Franklin, TN.
- Community Well-Being. Locally owned businesses build strong neighborhoods by sustaining communities and contributing to local causes. Statistically, local business owners donate more to local charities than non-local owners. Each year we sponsor and participate in many local charity walks and runs. We also donate gift cards for local school fundraising programs, and promote health and fitness among the kids right here in our community.
- Public benefits far outweigh public costs. Let’s break this down: Many chain stores are owned by non-local companies, and are given tax breaks by local government. Locally owned independent businesses do not receive such benefits and thus contribute a far greater proportion of revenues to local taxes. So, by standard business practice alone, small business more efficiently utilizes local resources, which saves local money.
- Unique Businesses Create Character and Prosperity. The unique character of your local community is defined in large part by the businesses that reside in it. In the same way, our business is defined by its customers.
- Most new jobs are provided by local businesses. Small local businesses are the largest employers nationally. Plus the more jobs you have in your local community the less people are going to commute, which means more time, less traffic, and less pollution. We’re greener!
- Customer service is better. Local businesses often hire people with more specific product expertise for better customer service. You are also going to see these people around town and they’re likely to be helpful since they see you day after day. I really liked this point. Our Cool Springs store manager “Crazy Legs” Barry, (coolest nickname ever) is constantly able to point out regular customers of Sport Seasons when out and about. Many of us are recognized and engaged by friends of the store, outside in the day-to-day, and that couldn’t make us happier. Some customers have even grown up buying all their shoes from Sport Seasons, and come back to us to outfit their own children. Our business is built on regular customers, and we strive to provide them the best service possible.
- Product diversity. We select products based, not on a national sales plan, but on the interests and needs of our local customers. Think about it this way; since we don’t order products in the millions, like big chains, we have a flexibility that can cater to our customers even on a store-to-store basis. Each of our six Sport Seasons locations carries a different mix of products important to the local area. No two locations are exactly the same.
- You matter more. We talk a lot about exerting influence with your purchasing choices, or “voting with your wallet.” It’s a fact that businesses respond to their customers but your values and desires are much more influential to your local community businesses. We do listen to our customers. Many times we’ll bring in a product line or team based solely upon customer requests. We also special order with many of our vendors. And, since the day we opened our second location, we’ve always transferred items from one store to another for your convenience. If we don’t have at one location the size, color or team that you need, we’ll get it from another and bring it to the store closest to you.
There are reasons that small businesses stick around in America, but the most important is our unique bond with our customers. This week has been just as much a celebration as it’s been one of many opportunities we’ve taken to thank you. But we know that sweet prizes and free gift cards aren’t enough to hold up our end of the bargain. So, we promise to remain loyal to our locals, as well as our developing web community (we couldn’t forget you guys) and deliver what you want, in the best way we can. That’s something that only a small business with friends like you can offer.
So here’s to another 27 years! I’m definitely looking forward to ‘00s Week.