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Long Live Small Business?

"I hope this helps after those dummies that stole from you...Long live small business!" This was written inside a card I received in our business P.O. Box with three 20 dollar bills attached. A gift from one of our wonderful, devoted customers. A few weeks prior, I had expressed on social media my frustration over a string of packages being stolen and damaged. I went on to explain how things like this can really hurt a small business. Maybe not a couple of stolen packages alone, but other problems arise constantly. Piling on top of one another like a mountain of obstacles we, as small business owners, continually climb as we work to get established.

I don't know how. I don't how we will do it. How other businesses are doing it. How we're all going to make it much longer. How will we keep climbing the mountain that is the sky-high heap compiled of government lock-downs, inflated living costs and our laughable competition with big business? Although, the lock-downs are over [for now]. And prayerfully the inflated living costs will begin to dip back down one day (hopefully sooner than later). But big will be the death of us. How can we compete much longer? These are the things that are on my mind daily, and it's so much bigger than just our business, but we're certainly feeling the exhaustion.

In full transparency, October was surprisingly abysmal. To say the least. You see, October is supposed to be a our best sales month of the whole year. Small businesses tend to make their most profit in October and November. This is called "make it or break" season for small businesses. It's the time of year we all bank on to push us over the mountain to financial success for the year. In these two fall months, many small businesses make as much profit if not more than they do the rest of the 10 months combined. If they don't, typically they will not open their doors the following year. Fall is crucial.

So what happened to our October? Our wonderful, beautiful, crisp, lively October? One word. Amazon. When things were unusually slow the first few days of our recent October launch, I mentioned it to a fellow small business owner friend of mine; to which they informed me Amazon had decided to add a third "PRIME DAYS" to their calendar year. After asking around to other small businesses, I realized it wasn't just us. Amazon utterly killed small business sales for at least the first half of October if not the entire month.

The problem isn't Amazon alone. Places like Amazon survive because we, as consumers, keep funneling money into the mouth of the beast that is big business. Just like Big Pharma and Big Ag, the average American consumes it all up like zombies. Leaving all that was good and simple and better behind in ruins for ease and comfort and faster than fast.

Us Americans, we love our stuff. We love having it all. Living like practical royalty. We have the credit card debit to prove it. Even more, we want the upmost accessibility. At our finger tips. Spoon fed to us. After all, I deserve it. I need it. I need it now. I'd like it on sale. I'll take a coupon while you're at it. And make sure I can find it in one place. One place that has every possible thing imaginable. One click and 2 days later it is in my hands. Instant gratification. A quench of never-ending thirst. A one minute dopamine high. It's so dang easy and it feels so dang good. Rinse, buy, repeat. I'm exhausted. And about broke. Aren't you?

Let's face it, the average American has turned into a consumer zombie. Slow, thoughtful shopping is for the great minority. We rarely use our discernment with our dollars whether its the places we shop or the goods we buy. Our standards over the past few decades have become shameful. No questions or concerns about who made it, where it was made, what values the person or company who made it has, what the product is made of. Is it toxic? Who cares, it's so cute. Do I really need it? No, but I have to have it. And we have and we have and we have until our closets and attics and garages are overflowing and we need an extra storage unit a few miles away from our home to hold all the stuff we have to have. So they build more storage units. Big three story concrete, air-conditioned boxes. Squeezed onto every corner of this otherwise beautiful country.

Look, I realize there is little I can do. Except write. Maybe inspire. Maybe it riles. Stirs something. Maybe someone starts asking questions. Maybe a light bulb is going off in someone's head right this very moment. Like it did for me a few years ago. Maybe someone wakes up and decides today is the day they set new standards for themselves and their family. Maybe this will spark a new trajectory for someone. Maybe they'll inspire someone else. At the very least, they'll be a part of a small collective of Americans that know what I know. That we're on a dangerous course. On a vessel we're not steering, but most definitely fueling. People like us, we know we have to slow it down and stop fueling this greedy, corrupt machine. That we have to detach and get off the ride. We have to slow down and hold on the little bit of good left. Most importantly, we know that We The People hold the real power and could quite possibly change everything.

So what keeps me going in this dimly lit place? Ya'll. Ya'll keep me going one million percent. Of course, my faith sustains me personally. But what brings me joy as a small business owner, is this community. Our customers are special. They are different. They don't mind that it may take up to a week to receive our goods. They appreciate how lovely and thoughtfully their orders are packaged. You must know, I plan a time of the day, typically as soon as I put my children to bed, to pack orders. I love this time. I play worship music as I thoughtfully package each and every order. I pray over the customer and their goods. The Lord shows me some incredible things about people I have never met. My customers go from a name on an order form, to someone God loves.

This community continues to show how much they care. There are folks praying for our mountains to move. For God to make a way. To give us rest. They are writing letters cheering us on. They have desires to stop shopping big business. They are making changes to live more thoughtfully. They know they are a piece something greater. And maybe one day, with enough folks shifting and really standing behind small businesses, they'll be the reason we thrive. Just maybe.

~Casey G.

Owner & Shopkeeper

Ps. Next week I will be writing about some lighter topics. I'm currently writing about my journey to becoming a more thoughtful consumer; why I began to change the way I consume, how I did it, how it's going and how I have saved so much money doing it!

Pss. If you ever want to write me a letter, you can send it to P.O. Box 119, Mount Olive, NC 28365. And I will be so happy to write you back. It may be a few weeks later. But I love a good old fashioned, slow correspondence.

Pss. Long live small business! Long live America!

Main Street, Mount Olive, NC 1952


*If you are interested in advertising your small business here in The Rooted Market community, please fill out the collaboration form located on the Contact page.

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