Local Love

“There will be a price adjustment on that for you.”

“Why?” I asked, not completely understanding.

“Because it wasn’t exactly as I thought it should be,” the local proprietor replied. 

“Oh don’t worry,” I said, very pleased with how everything had turned out. 

“Absolutely not!” he stated emphatically. “It’s on us.”

The non-profit organization I co-founded, Good Shepherd SLF which is building a high school in Cameroon, West Africa, had rented space for a board meeting in town. There were some minor glitches in the beginning that were no big deal to me or to the board. Nonetheless, it was a very big deal to the owner. As a result, he gladly and without hesitation, gave us the space rent free.

t-t10_milford_music_festival_5820_mobiAfter our meeting, I happened to walk into another local business in search of some ingredients to make a special dinner for my husband that night. The establishment had everything I needed except one item. I guess the owner could see the tiredness in my eyes, the slump in my walk in high heels after a long meeting and he said, “Wait a minute. I might have just what you need in the back for the dishes we make here.”

Then he went into the kitchen, returning with more than I could use in a small plastic bag. No charge. 

That’s what doing business in a small town is like, not that people give everything away for free, nor should they! But they care. They go the extra mile to satisfy, to please, to say, “We’re part of the same community. You’re my neighbor and I want to help.”

And you can’t put a price on that. It truly is priceless, as MasterCard would say. 

I know. I grew up in a small town in Tennessee and my father was a local business owner. He, too, went the extra mile for everyone who walked in the door of his men’s clothing store – hand delivering the suit for that special occasion if time was short, staying open late for the person who needed it, supplying everything needed for the Boy Scouts at a discount, as well as for the local high school bands. 

He worked every Saturday and yes – he had a staff of salespeople, but he wanted, felt he should be there. He came home late and bone tired every Christmas Eve and when he finally arrived home there was a family celebration.

But when hard times hit with high interest rates in the 70s hurting small businesses across America, not all, but some of those people he had gone the extra mile to help  forgot about him, turned their back on him. And it hurt. Not just my father, but our entire family.

I pray I never do that to anyone and I pray you don’t either. Local merchants who give to us, deserve to receive from us as well.  Christmas shopping will be here before we know it and birthdays occur often. Let’s take care of the people who have taken care of us all year long.

Let’s remember. Each and every one of them deserves it.

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