7 Biggest Strengths of Local Shops
And how you can build on them.
Remember the 7 Weaknesses of Local Shops? They were crazy popular because they touched a nerve. I acknowledged that some of our local businesses really need to step up to earn business today. This series is the flip side of that idea. Small town stores have strengths, too. Our best local shops know a lot about customer service and community, and every business would be wise to learn from our strengths.
- Get to know you
- Make customers feel loved
- Fewer layers
- More flexible
- More knowledgeable
- Benefiting the local community
Strength 6: Innovative.
The stereotype of sleepy small towns stuck in the past hides a simple fact: Innovation happens in small towns.
“Small towns are still the place where creative ideas are being generated every day,” Tripp Muldrow said, at the Oklahoma Main Street Small Towns conference.
Small town businesses are innovative because we have to be.
We have more limits.
We do without a lot of things big city businesses take for granted. There aren’t hundreds of local banks to choose from. We don’t have millions of potential customers in a 30 mile radius. The services from our city government are limited.
So we just work around these things. We don’t borrow money; we bootstrap. We don’t burn customers and wait for others to take their place. We find ways to do without what we can’t have.
We have to prepare for every possible situation.
Serving our local market means we have to be able to do a lot broader range of things. We can’t rely on just doing on single specialized task, expecting other specialists to come in and do the rest of the work. It’s a small town! We come prepared to handle anything.
We have a limited workforce.
The people available may be younger than we want, may not have any previous experience in our field, may have drug convictions or may be much older than the typical big-city worker. So we get creative. In Elliot Lake, Ontario, there are a lot of retired people, compared to the total population. Jessie, owner of Jessie’s Towing, has to get creative to make the equipment work for older workers. He modifies equipment and tools to take less brute strength. He stays flexible and provides shorter working hours for his semi-retired helpers.
Limits breed creativity.
Jonathan Fields says he’s found this to be true in every creative endeavor, and that abundance can kill creativity.
I believe it, because I see it in so many small town businesses. The limits of doing business in a small town make us more innovative.
Next up: Strength 7: Benefiting the local community
- Cheap placemaking idea: instant murals - September 11, 2020
- Refilling the rural business pipeline - July 7, 2020
- Huge vacant buildings: grants to renovate? - June 9, 2020
- Economic self defense for small towns - June 7, 2020
- The best things you can do for local businesses in light of coronavirus - March 27, 2020
- How to get more parking downtown without adding any spaces - March 7, 2020
- Exact Yeti Blue mic volume and Windows settings to reduce background noise - February 17, 2020
- Getting local businesses to cooperate with you: Shop Hopping Around Brownsville - December 16, 2019
- Survey of Rural Challenges 2019 results - December 5, 2019
- Shop Indie Local adds a new twist to tired Buy Local campaigns - November 11, 2019