Editor's note: Jessica Ann is a restaurant owner who's blogging about trying to rebound from the coronavirus pandemic at My Rebound by FOX 17. She founded The Candied Yam, a Grand Rapids restaurant serving Southern cuisine, in 2016. She is married with a daughter who just graduated high school and an adult son. She lives in Kentwood.
I love a good chain store! Most of us do. We know exactly what we are going to get when we arrive.
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If in fact when we are even in another city, we still know the aisle number and where the product is located because the stores have the same layout and footprint. You can sign up for weekly updates and possibly even join some type of club or rewards system. This makes it great because you get to have recognition of your efforts of being a loyal and faithful customer. Look at you creeping up on VIP status! Aren’t you special! Also, sign up and then they remind you to make a purchase, showing you all the great deals and why you should purchase even more. Then they give you sale prices that are out of this world. For when things do not sell or it’s seasonal item (time of the year) or they need to make room for more space on the shelves, they can sell things by slashing them 20, 50, 75, even 90% off. You walked out the store with a big S on your chest. The S stands for SUPER SHOPPER!
I am telling you, the big chains are really something as they hardly run out of things, except for in a pandemic. Then, it’s quite possibly toilet paper or disinfectant wipes. But, you can always find something. With all that being said, I love what the chain stores can offer. The power in sheer numbers gives them that authority. Now, I would like for you to know why I personally also (meaning too - as well as) like to shop local and support as many local businesses as humanly possible. Loads of business owners just like me keep local people working. When people work, they rely on their paychecks to take care of themselves and their families. College students are able to go to school to pay for their education. Seniors citizens are able to have extra money to pay for medicines and take care of their beloved pets. High schoolers are able to start their first job and open bank accounts to learn how to manage money they get paid. That is a much needed skill for kids! What an economic engine. The owners and the people who work also work and pay taxes. No need to expand on that.
Local owners are able to do more for their communities. Many times passionate about a topic, we give our hard earned profits where our hearts are to causes we wholeheartedly support. Sometimes it education, sports, politics, service groups, non profit organizations and/or pet groups.
“Listen here Jessica Ann, shopping big chains and box stores offers me many conveniences but I do want to do better, so show me or tell me how I can shop local.” I’m so glad I can read your mind! Shopping local is a REAL thing. You can also go on line and do the research. Is there a parent company or is there just a handful or only one? You can easily call and ask if the business is locally owned. Many time the employees know who the owner is, if they are locally based. There are groups and organizations that will have a list of local businesses you can support. They have done the work in verifying that these businesses are local community based businesses. Here where I live there is a resource organization called Local First.
Now I also want to give you one more strong reason that I feel, in local businesses, I receive, in general better customer service. Honestly think about it. As an invested local community business owner, I want - scratch that. NO - I NEED to have the best type of customer service. There are no big budgets for marketing, there are no big budgets for television commercials and newspaper ads which could run thousands and thousands of dollars. It’s just me and my team out giving the very best service and product, in my case it’s food, so that you will tell someone who will tell someone else and become an evangelist for us.
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I LOVE GREAT CUSTOMER SERVICE! Here is my case in point about how I felt about a local businesses customer service; Gordon Food Service is one of our food vendors and they are headquartered locally. I have a rep and her name is Brittany. I was out one day and Brittany must have seen my van, Donna, because I came out and a note was on the windshield. “Hope you’re having a beautiful day ~ Brittany”. Now, I know her and she is a very busy young lady. How many times have YOU seen someone’s vehicle and stopped everything that you were doing to let them know in that moment that they matter?! That’s what local does. It can brighten your day! Now she probably will scold me for sharing, but this kind of stuff happens all the time with local businesses. We show up to celebrate and donate to your kids baseball teams. We stay open a little bit late to service a last minute person. We go out of our way to make a favorite dish if requested. We give money to a local family who has fell on hard times. We write checks and give meals to local food pantries. Not because we always have the big bucks. That’s not always the case - especially in mine. It’s a choice to be generous. It’s because we have hearts and strings we that are tied to our local communities.