November Commentary by Jack Wolcott
As the holidays approach, it is a good time to step back a bit and gain a fresh perspective on the significance of our actions and how they affect those around us.
I think we would all generally agree that a higher quality of life is worth working toward. But how often do you consider how your daily decisions directly affect the quality and variety of choices available to you and your family?
The Corvallis Independent Business Alliance firmly believes that supporting your locally owned, independently operated businesses is the best way to directly influence your quality of life. By patronizing the businesses that are owned by people who live, socialize and raise their children in our neighborhoods, you are thanking them for their investment in our community and encouraging them to continue to keep it up.
It is important to realize that your support actually has a multiplier effect. For every $100 spent at a national retailer, only $13 is returned to the local economy. If you spend the same $100 at a locally owned business, the local economic impact is $45 — almost 3½ times as much. To further increase your impact, encourage your friends to consider their shopping habits or bring them with you as you visit your favorite shops.
This local benefit has been verified by several studies around the country, and they all agree that the local economy dramatically improves when people make an educated effort to shop locally. To put this into perspective, think about this: If each household in Corvallis simply redirected $100 of planned holiday spending from chain stores to locally owned merchants, the local economic benefit would be approximately $1 million! This compares to only $300,000 if spent at the national retailers. Just think of the benefit throughout the whole year if this effort continued.
If you would like to read these studies and gain a broader appreciation of the many ways local businesses contribute to community vitality, visit the Web site of the American Independent Business Alliance at www.amiba.net.
As you make your holiday shopping list this year, keep these points in mind:
• Local merchants spend a much larger portion of their total revenue on local labor to run the enterprise and sell the merchandise.
• Local merchants keep their modest profits in the local economy.
• Local merchants tend to patronize other local merchants and refer their customers to them.
• Local merchants support local artists and authors, creating further local economic impact.
• Local merchants give a higher percentage of their profits to local charities, schools and other organizations.
Don’t think that “it won’t make much difference” or “it was just a couple of items.” You really do make a difference in determining the future of the community in which your children will grow up and you will one day retire. CIBA thanks you for your support and wishes you a happy and healthy holiday season.
firstname.lastname@example.org">email@example.com">jerryheilman, 11:23 AM [link]
October Commentary by Jack Wolcott
In the world of business, you are often perceived to be what you charge for. And this can be the single most important advantage locally owned, independently operated businesses offer their community over the national chain stores.
If you compete solely on the basis of price, then you have been commoditized, offering little or no true differentiation. Perhaps even worse, you are neglecting the real strength and value of local ownership: the ability to customize the experience your customers receive.
The Corvallis Independent Business Alliance believes that one thing most customers truly value, even if they don’t initially recognize it, is the experience they receive when they shop.
I don’t mean being called by name once they give the salesperson their “preferred customer card,” credit card or check. I mean the complete experience, from entering your store to the last step out the door and walking past your storefront. This applies just as much to all the service businesses: from the initial blind phone call to the first visit and all the way through the job to the final clean-up and presentation of the bill.
You want to create an experience that engages your customers in an inherently personal way. It is the value the experience holds for the individual that determines the worth of the offering and the work of the business.
You can use your merchandise as props and your services as the stage for a personalized experience. Looked at in this way, every business can be viewed as a theater. In their book “The Experience Economy,” Joseph Pine and James Gilmore make several key points that are very relevant to your business:
Whenever employees work in front of customers, an act of theater occurs.
With theater as the model, even mundane tasks engage customers in a memorable way.
Any work a customer overhears or observes directly is an act of theater.
The act of acting differentiates memorable experiences from ordinary activity.
Acting is taking deliberate steps to connect with an audience.
Too many workers behave no differently on stage than in their private lives.
I can’t emphasize how important it is for the owner to be actively involved in greeting and helping customers and keeping in close touch with the sales floor and employee interactions with customers.
This is the best advantage local ownership offers: The owner lives here, is available for customer concerns, and is intimately connected to the community. Their kids and your kids’ well-being are inseparable. The interests of the community and your business are directly connected. There are no long-distance decisions from absent owners.
Stay directly involved in your business and your customers will recognize it and reward you for it. We are very fortunate that Corvallis still values and recognizes the significance of local ownership, but we can never take it for granted!
As Corvallis faces an increasing encroachment from national retailers, we must help our community understand the broader consequences of replacing local retailers simply because of a perceived savings in cost or time. What CIBA is asking our community to do is give the local option the first opportunity to satisfy their needs. Don’t assume we don’t have similar prices or can’t supply what you are looking for. Service is one of our most important offerings: just ask!
firstname.lastname@example.org">email@example.com">jerryheilman, 11:01 AM [link]
October CIBA Newsletter
A Newsletter for Members and Friends
Upcoming Seasonal Advertisements
Around Thanksgiving, The Gazette Times will be publishing an ad featuring CIBA members. We want to urge Corvallis residents to shop locally for their holiday gift giving. If you’d like to be included, contact your GT representative, or Cathy Holdorf at Sibling Revelry for more information. The ad will emphasize the local charitable contributions made by CIBA members throughout the year.
Socially Responsible Food Retailer of the Year
The First Alternative Co-op has been selected as a recipient of the Socially Responsible Retailer Award for 2006, by the National Nutritional Foods Association (NNFA). They will be awarded and recognized at the NNFA Marketplace and Convention trade show next July.
CIBA Member Health Insurance Survey
The Health Insurance Survey has been completed and the results were reported to our members at the September membership meeting. Here are some of the findings…
1. One fourth of members have no health insurance at all, one fourth have coverage for the owner only. An additional group has insurance through their spouse, and only 1/3 of our CIBA members provide any kind of insurance for their employees.
2. CIBA members are most interested in finding some way to reduce insurance costs. Some are canceling traditional insurance in favor of reimbursement plans, or some type of health savings account. Thirty percent of those surveyed would consider a change if they could find a cheaper option.
The Directory is currently being revised and updated. New copies should be available for the holiday season. Thanks to Robert Best and Chris Hines for their hard work on this project.
CIBA is part of a consortium called the Economic Vitality Partnership (EVP), made up of fourteen organizations in Benton County, dedicated to economic development. The EVP is embarking on a community-wide strategic plan focusing on planning for the economic future of Benton County. Information from the Community Survey will assist in guiding the direction of strategic planning efforts. Making the plan consistent with the values embraced by the community is an important part of this process.
Please help us!! Take fifteen minutes of your time to provide powerful input in this process. Go to http://www.InsightsNow.com/evp_survey.htm to find the interactive survey. What you think, feel and know about the community and its economic health is important to us.
Country Vitamins Anniversary
Time flies when you are having fun, and Country Vitamins has been doing just that for 23 years! Owners Pat and Glenn Sardell, their family and staff, are celebrating Country Vitamins' 23rd Anniversary with Customer Appreciation Days, Wednesday, November 9th through Sunday, November 13th. They invite their customers to stop by for discounts, samples, free products and opportunities to win gift baskets.
November Membership Meeting
Our next membership meeting is a holiday party at Big River Restaurant, November 30th, from 5:30 to 7:00 in the evening. We’ll have time to meet new members and discuss changes in our business services. If you know of a business that is interested in CIBA, this would be a wonderful meeting to bring a guest to.
Executive Board Meeting: Tuesday, November 1, 13:30 a.m., FA Co-op Meeting Room
Board Meeting: Tuesday, November 8, 2:00 p.m., FA Co-op Meeting Room
Philomath CIBA Group: Tuesday, November 15, 12:00 p.m., Janni Lou’s Creations
Membership Meeting: Wednesday, November 30, 5:30 to 7:00 p.m., Big River Restaurant
firstname.lastname@example.org">email@example.com">jerryheilman, 8:49 AM [link]