Friday, March 04, 2011

I had my cake

I headed out by 6:30 this morning to visit my mom in the nursing home. I didn't get to go yesterday because I was babysitting and after that, I waited for the delivery truck to bring lumber and building supplies until late.
This morning after a quick visit, I headed off for a full day of interviews in town. Gas has gotten so expensive lately that I try to line up as many as possible on the same day.
Today I interviewed a doctor who is also a beekeeper. I was fascinated by all that goes in to keeping bees. As a bonus, I got two jars of honey when I left. Did I mention that I have a SWEET job now? He and his wife were delightful people.
After that, I interviewed several independent pharmacists for a feature on the role they play in a small community. All of these pharmacies do home delivery, and many of them have in-store charge accounts, and a human answers the phone, which is unheard of with the chain stores. 
Healthcare and big business are trying their best to weed our the small community independent pharmacists, but they provide a service that cannot be matched by chains. It was a very interesting inside look at what they are up against and how they survive.
I also interviewed a guy that owns a music store that has sold guitars in his community for 35 years. His business is not unlike independent pharmacies in that huge music chains have moved into town with thousands of instruments.  
Like the pharmacies, they survive by going the extra mile for their customers. As I sat down and talked to the music store owner, he had an orange slice cake and a pot of coffee brewing. We sat for a while eating cake and sipping coffee while musicians who wandered in off the street to try out guitars, played beautiful music on an ancient couch.
I thought to myself, why would anyone choose to buy from a chain when the only thing they have going for them is the price is "a little cheaper?"
For some people, price is "the only thing". To me, I think personal service and a piece of fresh orange slice cake goes a long way.


  1. you know that orange slice is one of my favorite cakes, where is my slice???????

  2. You are absolutely right about small businesses. I had a drug store that my husband and I did business with for over 40 years. I finally had to switch to Walgreen's. Why? Because the original owner sold it to someone who bled it of every dime they could and then had to order a drug I take and make me wait every month.

    Walgreen's has some really bad systemic problems but at least they have the drug on the Arizona!

  3. Who knew a person could make a living sitting around eating cake?

    That's some gig you've got going, buddy.

    As for orange slice cake, I've never met one, but Jan Karon writes about them in her books, so they must actually exist.

    A terrific article! Thanks!

  4. A big hoooraah!! to small independent businesses going the extra personal mile for a few dollars/pounds more! You know you are guaranteed a good product/service. It's a shame that these days people will tend to opt for the cheaper price (can't blame them really!) but at the cost is far more!!

    Take care

  5. A human answers the phone! I love that. Support local business is an excellent message. There's so many people that forget about mom & pop, and auto pilot to the chains. If more of us shopped local, fed our local merchants, perhaps they wouldn't be threatened by the chains, wouldn't entertain selling out, would thrive. Such a shame what happens to independents - these are real people who want to help grow the community's commerce and offer valuable service to residents. Buy local. Always buy local if you can. Great piece. ;)

  6. We have a wonderful Main Street in our hometown in NC and we love to walk and shop there. If we don't use them we'll lose them...forever.

  7. I much prefer the small stores even if the prices are a little higher. The big chains, all they do is institute and reinforce poverty. I wish people would get that connection.

  8. been saying that for over 25 years. i agree.

  9. You sure do have a 'sweet' job, I could use a piece of that orange slice cake and some coffee right now.

    I enjoy your blog.

  10. It seems I stumbled on an interesting topic. I've heard this a lot lately.
    But as Charlene, these small businesses need to be acutely attuned to the needs of their customers and have what they need at a price they can afford.
    I think there's hope but it will take a conscious effort by the masses to make it happen.

  11. Well, one thing that really good chains like Costco have going for them is that they don't act so bummed when you return something. Also, I think they might be more than a little cheaper. Still, you are right in that there's no continuity about who waits on you, and therefore no chance to get to know the people you're dealing with.

  12. Americans want cheap. The large chains respond.

    For many manufactured goods, the cost of those nice cheap products is the slave labor in China used to make them.


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