The Death of Local?

Are we witnessing the death of small, local businesses?

I hope not. But I’m very concerned.

For me, the possible extinction of small, local businesses, for what ever reason is very personal.

The impact on small businesses battling giant competitors has literally taken money out of my pocket. So “Yes” I have a vested interest in seeing small businesses not only survive but prosper.

I created my first business in 1968 and my first successful publication in 1976. All right, if you’re thinking “old geezer” I plead “guilty as charged”.

I have done business with dozens of Fortune 500 companies. However, they represent less then two percent of the thousands of businesses that have supported my print and digital publications through the purchase of advertising.

In 2015 I called on a grocery store owner who had been a consistent advertiser for years. It was the first time he failed to renew his ad.

Two months earlier a Walmart had opened less then a mile from his store. His gross sales were down over $20,000.00 a week.

Of course his cost of advertising with me was no where near twenty K, but understandably he was cutting expenses in the hopes he would survive.

Fast forward to now, after a noble effort to compete with Walmart’s colossal buying power, he is privately trying to find a buyer before he is forced to close his doors.

You may not get hit in the pocket book as directly as I when more and more small businesses cease to exist, but trust me you don’t want to pay the exorbitant prices that would prevail if we end up with just a handful of mega giants controlling commerce.

I think it’s great Amazon wants to sell you everything you want. It’s especially great for Jeff Bezos. But is it great for the rest of us?

It’s not that the loss of ad revenue from one grocer got me heated about giants crushing little guys, I’ve been worried about that at least as far back as 1990 when I moved out of Boston.

I even voiced this concern in “Sometimes I Get It, Sometimes I Don’t”. A song I wrote that includes the line: “Can you tell me just what I should think when one company makes it all down to the kitchen sink” (see below).

The sense of loss I experienced when I left Boston and could no longer take a five or ten minute drive to pickup bagels at Kupel’s, enjoy a favorite dish of pasta at Grotto La Strada or grab a cannoli at Mike’s Pastry got me thinking about what our world would be like if these small, local jewels no longer were here for us to enjoy their labors of love.

I cannot speak for you but, to me a world where there are a half dozen oligopolies who sell everything “down to the kitchen sink” is NOT going to be an improvement over a world full of countless little gems following their own quirky takes on “enterprise”.

Have you heard “variety is the spice of life”?

It was this kind of thinking in early 2019 that finally spurred me to create Buylocali.

I had in mind a website with the tools any business could use to accept orders online, receive payment and either deliver the products or let the customer pick them up.

And for service businesses, tools that let their clients schedule appointments, chat with a company representative and process payments for services rendered.

Now, in the middle of a crisis unlike anything these old eyes have seen, I feel more sure then ever that, if small, local businesses are going to survive they best figure out how to harness the power of the internet before the lethal combination of mega competition and the next worldwide  crisis takes them out.

I hope a crisis the magnitude of a Covid 19 serves as a wake up call for small, local businesses. Especially any business who has been relying primarily on customers being physically present.

If you are a small business owner, this could be your final warning that, if you don’t figure out how to get your products and/or services to your customers without the necessity of their physical presence, you could soon find yourself buying a “Going Out of Business” sign and/or ad.

If you have not already added your business to the Buylocali Business Directory please Add Your Business now. It’s free and it will help consumers who prefer to buy locally to find you.

Thank you. All the best to you in all the good you do.