Commentary by Jack Wolcott
Have you ever paused to consider why certain people, and not others, are working in your favorite locally owned, independently operated store? Granted, there are not many jobs available in Corvallis, but each person still had to make a decision where to apply and which job to accept.
I have discussed many of the differences between national retailers and locally owned businesses, and in considering the above questions, I have realized that they also generally apply to the employees as well. This is certainly not to deprecate the work force of the non-locally owned businesses, but to help identify another quality advantage of our own independently operated enterprises. I have had some excellent customer service in chain stores, but more often than not, it stands in sharp contrast to my usual experience.
First of all, most employees are attracted to locally owned businesses because they want to feel that they are a genuine part of the success of the operation. The owner will be in the store, accessible to the customers and to the employees. Problems can be resolved as they arise, not through a distant chain of command. They take pride in a job well done, and it is important for the owner to be able to compliment employees directly and personally.
They also want to work with customers who are drawn to the shared values that the local businesses promote and care for. They want to work with people who are regulars and have made a conscious decision to support the store in which they work.
Most employees recognize that they are also supporting their community by working in a locally owned company. By giving good customer service and encouraging repeat business, they are directly contributing to the success of the business. A recent economic study in Austin, Texas, concluded for every $100 spent at a chain, $13 remained in the community, while $45 remained when spent with hometown businesses. This is real money that directly benefits our quality of life and continues to multiply the longer it stays in local businesses!
I also feel that people are drawn to work in smaller businesses because they feel they can make a difference and want to support others that are making a difference in the things that matter to them. By contributing to the success of the store or service they work for, they are also contributing to the success of the suppliers of that business and the employees who work for them.
This is one of the most wonderful things about local ownership: It is reciprocal in nature, and everyone wins. We each do what we can, when we can do it. We also need to let other people know why it makes a difference so they, in turn, can make their own informed decisions.
The Corvallis Independent Business Alliance was formed to help educate consumers and owners alike and to find ways for all of us to work together for the benefit of our community. We could not do it without employees who also share our values.
lars, 7:55 AM [link]