Friday, May 13, 2011

living local

I love living where we do in the city - a block from a kitchsy shopping and restaurant row.  Small shops peddle a broad range of trinkets, gifts, clothing, bikes, shoes, chocolate, even sex toys and tattoos.  Sometimes these single proprietor businesses are closed unexpectedly and have very odd hours, but Saturday afternoons are always hopping.

Last weekend, two local shops lost my business - at least for a while if not longer.  One offered a groupon a while ago - I snapped it up - I always buy more than I intend when awesome pastries are on the line, so it was bound to be a good deal for the shop as well.  I tried to redeem it in December - they got back to me late, saying they were closed after the holiday.  No worries.  I ordered again in March.  Nope - 'we're too busy'.  Finally, I ordered nearly a week in advance for Mothers' Day weekend.  Went to pick it up - they were closed.  No phone response, no email, despite the note on the door that said all special orders would be filled.  Money back from Groupon - I won't recommend them anymore.  There's a point of unreliability that is not acceptable from any business, even a small, local one.

I was out and about, so I stopped in a few shops and picked up gifts to thank the family we stayed with in Utah this year.  I went first to a eco-oriented gift shop where I knew I'd find interesting bracelets for their daughter - and I did.  When I first moved (alone, without Shea while he tended to a house that was for sale), I was close friends with the owners.  We walked each other's dogs for a while until some wires got crossed and our friendship has since fallen by the wayside.  We still say hello when we're out, but I hadn't seen them in a while.  The owner introduced me to another woman in the shop, saying, "This is Becky - she's not eco, though."  The thing is, I'm not sure how eco it is to fly around the world, collecting crafts and products that are eco and support the communities you visit, but I don't point out this inconsistency.  I get what she's trying to do with her shop and think it shouldn't matter whether I'm occasionally eco by your standards or not.  Especially when I'm doing one thing I believe in - shopping locally.  I handed over my credit card for the bracelets and walked out.

The moral of this story - if you're a small shop owner:
1. Be reliable.  Or at least responsive.
2. Don't insult the customer.

Lucky for me, I don't need many pastries on my way to race weight.  And there are plenty of other gift shops that are local, if not eco.

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