Monday, July 30, 2012
Our Downtown, don't let it fade away.
Shops have disappeared before our eyes!
Last month when I went in to talk with the owner of Cheshire Bookshop to say goodbye, I cried.
I didn't cry just because I am a business owner, yes the pain of watching a fellow business owner struggle and have to make the difficult choice to close their doors is hard--but I cried because I am sad for what we will soon be missing.
Personally I love walking around downtown and going into stores: I love window shopping, and I love actually shopping. I enjoy talking with shop owners and staff about life, love and their products. I want to know what they like and recommend. In the shops I frequent, they know my taste, my colors, and I love to hear "I thought of you when I saw this." I like that the people helping me ask me how I am doing, how my family is, and they actually care. If you drive over the hill maybe a checker at some big store will ask how you are doing, but are they really asking? Or are they on autopilot?
Sure, sometimes we leave town and shop with my in-laws at huge malls and shopping centers in their community. Sometimes I shop online; but more often than not I make an online shopping cart and leave it. Online window shopping is fun and I can still spend my money in local shops. Shops where I can see the quality and hear real feedback without sorting through reviews online. We have everything here! What do you really need that you can't get locally?
Cheshire was a part of our downtown community for as long as I can remember, and now they are gone. Understuff, also part of our downtown since I was a kid, is shutting their doors. In the past four years alone we have seen many other great shops go.
So I want to shout out to all of the local Fort Bragg and Mendocino folk. If you like a store, and you like going into a business and being able to touch and see what you are buying, if you like having friendly customer service and shopping where the staff knows you and cares about you, shop there, spend a little money when you can. It doesn't take a lot. I love our community, our downtown, and we have to start paying attention to keep it thriving.
When you come into Pippi's and I say thank you, I genuinely mean thank you. Thank you for helping me feed my family, thank you for helping me pay my mortgage, and thank you for helping me keep running a business that I love. I would venture to guess that most of the small businesses in our community feel the same way and are grateful for your business.
It doesn't take much to support your local businesses: check out the 350 Project for more information on how you can support our local businesses and where your money goes when you shop locally. Keep our downtown alive.
One more thing.
There are twelve empty store fronts on Franklin Street. This is crazy--let's not let any more businesses go and let's bring more businesses downtown. So, I implore you, if you have a business idea, a dream of working hard to do something you love, to be your own boss and enrich your community...go for it. Start your own business (or buy an existing established business, Racines and Understuff are both for sale!).
I will be writing a separate post on this later but, really, do it. Opening Pippi's was the biggest, scariest decision I ever made--but it was also one of the best ones.