Tomorrow is Thanksgiving Day, a treasured and truly revered American holiday. It is a time when we gather to give thanks for all the good things the year has brought. It is that magical time of year when some of the most outrageously wonderful foods find their way to our tables, thanks to hardworking hands and generous hearts. And it is, most likely, the last chance to breathe before the onslaught of the frenzy that surrounds Christmas.
Last year, a new ‘tradition’ was born, filling the gap between Black Friday and Cyber Monday, a little gem called Small Business Saturday, sponsored by American Express. As a small business in Wyckoff, NJ, I appreciate the fact that there are people who think so much of us and businesses like ours that they are willing to organize a day to promote what we do. From a selling perspective, it really doesn’t help Horizon Landscape directly, since it targets retail shops, but keeping our local retail stores in business helps our local economy, which in turn, helps us to keep our doors open. It’s just a little link in the big business food chain, but a vitally important one.
Long before chat rooms, email, Facebook and Twitter, small business shopping was our social network. Everyone in town knew the names and faces of the deli owners, the gas station attendants, the coffee shop waitresses, the grocery clerks and the local barber – and the best part was, they knew ours, too. They watched our kids grow up. In some cases, they watched us grow up, as well. They greeted us with a smile, they put special care into our purchases, and even stopped by for a visit when we were under the weather. They were trustworthy friends who were not just in business to make a living, but to build a community.
Then, along came super grocery stores, low-priced department stores and club warehouses. They deals were great. We could get everything we needed in one place. We were hooked. But most of us, I’m sure, never stopped to think that we were sacrificing loyalty and community for savings and convenience. I admit I was, and still am from time to time, guilty – I wanted the most bang for my buck, like everyone else. But by spending most of our hard-earned money in the big chain stores, we were depriving the small business owners and their families the privilege of doing the same. After all, it doesn’t matter how much money you can save when you have no income to spend.
Your local merchants work very hard to stock what it is you like to buy. For instance, a dear relative of mine opened a clothing shop many years ago right here in Wyckoff, and she spent countless hours talking with her customers and her friends about their preferences, and by going to trade shows in New York City so that she could keep up with the pulse of changing fashion. She had a wonderful eye for design, and had some beautiful items in her shop. Many local residents, however, preferred buying their goods in high-end clothing and department stores, and she eventually had no choice but to close up shop. She was just one of many small business owners throughout the country who was not able to compete with big business; one of thousands of small business owners who would have gladly taken the time to understand who we are and what we want to spend our money on – all of them hard-working, dedicated people trying to make a living while helping to build up their communities.
Your local service businesses are also working hard to put your needs first – landscapers, plumbers, electricians, carpenters, cleaning services and other helping hands. Many of them are residents in your local communities who work by themselves or with a small staff. When you need specialized household services, check with your town’s chamber of commerce for a list of people in your neighborhood, ask your neighbors for referrals, and hire locally.
Small business is a great American tradition. From colonial times right up through to the modern age, communities all across the country have depended upon the strength and stability of their local merchants, not only for their survival and well-being, but also for a warm smile, a friendly conversation and a firm handshake. I can’t think of a better way to give thanks for the blessings we have received this year than to give back to our local businesses on Small Business Saturday and throughout this coming Christmas season. On behalf of small business owners everywhere, I challenge my readers to seriously consider and patronize your local merchants when making your list and checking it twice. You might be surprised to find that the perfect gift is within walking distance.
We are most grateful to be counted among the small businesses of Wyckoff, NJ, and consider it both and honor and a privilege to have a hand in building up our community. The entire staff of Horizon Landscape Company wishes all of you and your families a happy, healthy, safe and blessed Thanksgiving.