Unlike millions of people across the country, I chose not to participate in Black Friday. Unfortunately, I could not go shopping on Small Business Saturday, either.
I chose, instead, to go to a big box home improvement store and shop for an “S” hook to hold my barbecue grill utensils. Now that I think about it, I should have gone to an independent hardware store on Peoria Avenue around 43rd Avenue for that one small piece. It’s close to home.
Many of us are spoiled by all the glitter and variety available at the big box stores. A lot of us, however, are going online to purchase whatever our heart desires. Still, there are things we can buy online that simply are not available in stores anymore.
At one time in my life, I and my ex ran a small business in a small community in north central Arizona. We sold package liquor, staples like bread, milk, eggs, and canned food. Plus, we had gas pumps, when fuel was 45 cents a gallon. And, people complained that we were gouging them, even though we were making five cents a gallon. That’s when we had to pay someone to pump the gas. That’s when we also had to pay the electric bill for the gas pump.
Pretty soon, we built a restaurant and bar onto the back of the store, and that’s when the fun began. We had music on Friday and Saturday. It was a noisy place sometimes.
Still, by any standard, it was a small business; open seven days a week, 18 hours a day. It was no picnic; the hours were brutal.
After nine and a half years, it had taken its toll on our minds and bodies. We were missing so many memories with our son. We sold it and spent the next three years recuperating.
Ours is just one example of how difficult it can be to own one’s own business. The service business is perhaps the most stressful. If you have food products, you risk buying too little or too much. You have to learn your market. You have to take that risk every day. You keep your fingers crossed and pray that your inventory will go out the door while you put dollar bills in the till.
After locking the front door of your business, you walk into your house, flip on the light, find your way down the hall to your bedroom and quickly slip out of your sweaty clothes and step into a warm shower. Before you know it, your head is on the pillow; but six hours later, you’re up and at it again.
That is the way of a small business owner. There is no long-distance call from a manager to let you know how the store did today. There’s just you and your partner, two or three employees, and the regular customers who are the foundation of your success.
To those who patronize their locally owned small businesses, I salute you. At the same time, I apologize to those same businesses for not walking through your doors this past weekend. I’ll make up for it in the coming weeks and months. I’ve been there.