Running a small business is difficult. I watched Annie , Margo and the rest of the crew create a successful restaurant and I learned a few things.
Connect. I don’t mean ‘make connections’ in the business glad-hand way, but truly connect. Talk to the people in the neighborhood. Tell them what you are thinking , what you want to do , what issues you are facing and how you want to deal with them.
At one point, the Vine took reservations. But this was actually blocking business. The restaurant could be almost empty, but they couldn’t seat anyone – because reservations were headed in. Annie talked to a lot of people before she stopped taking reservations and the transition went smoothly
Let people help. in the case of the Vine – painting , tables , etc wouldn’t be there without help. And it is another way to connect , of course. A little community ownership never hurts.
Be open, frank. I know a bunch about the financing of restaurants now. I know why Salmon is a big feature on the menu. I can tell you all about the restaurant advantages to kegged wine. Annie’s openness about the business side of things, made it really easy to be frank in return.
Love it. No matter what you do – some days are just drudgery. Yes, Annie loves food. but she also loves the restaurant. There has always been pride and pleasure in her voice when she talks about The Vine.
Do you support local business? Where do you shop? As much as I can, more and more of my shopping goes local or small business. Not all , because if you look at my blog I do get ebooks from amazon . ( no local book store ! boo!) But when I can , I spend my money in local and small businesses.
I have a few reasons why. The first is that local businesses are responsive. My local small grocery store ( Mr. Mikey’s) is always asking if there are things they should carry . Recently they added a small produce section. Our local glass bead maker made beads inspired by a local customer/friend. And The Niles Pie Company is always interested in feedback.
The second, local business support the local community. A number of the local business have been involved in helping support the Niles Plaza concerts. Both with money(thank you, Iron Dog ) and with time ( Thanks, Wayne). The local business also support each other . The Niles Pie Company recently had a party for their kickstarter at the Vine.
I support local businesses by shopping at them. I also spread the word about them – and we also help. My DH has helped with a number of projects for local business by donating his computer expertise, and his woodworking skills., and sharing his music. And we help by donating Money. As I said above, the Niles Pie company has a kickstarter going on. A kickstarter is away for a business to raise money . People donate money and receive something ( a service or goods) in return. A donation to the Niles Pie Kickstarter is a gift to the owner, a gift to you ( pie!) , and a gift to the community ( expansion means hiring people) .
Niles Pie is not the first Kickstarter I’ve been involved in . I do think it its a great place to start ( I like Pie) . However, there are a lot of small ( and local ) businesses you can support. Explore kickstarter and see what a little bit of your money can do. It is fun to watch the donations come in and then to see the progress of a project.
On Facebook, I talk about going to the Vine a lot, espcially on every other Wednesday . That is my day off ( which menas work every other Satuday ) and I try to go down for Happy hour. Sometimes , there are 10 or 12 of us , but last week , on Bonus Thursday , there were only three of us. While hnaging with my friends C and C , I finally understood why it is something I enjoy so much. It isn’t the wine and food ( though that is good !); it is the conversation. The conversation is not intense, or earth shattering , but that is what is going on . Yes, we all have phones and yes there might be a facebook messages — or picutres of food and wine sent to working spouses and friends , but mostly it is just conversation.
We all have families , work to do ( yes painting counts ), and our time is limited. so we talk about stuff. and some other stuff , and then some more.
I like these long meandering conversations and I value them.
So It is all about local business . It turns out that for every 100.00 spent in a local independent store 68.00 comes back to the community – only 43.00 if you spend it in a chain and well, nothing if it is online. ( there are some intersting exeptions to this)
The project info can be found here. it looks like brick and motar counts in the project because of commercial property tax. What this site is asking you to do is think of 3 independent brick and motar business and commit to spending 50.00 dollars out of you budget at them – instead of at a chain.
I have a few quibbles with this. But only because it doesn’t count a home based business like Pamela’s Soap or an online delivery business like Nile Pie . However , because they don’t have commercial property taxes – they don’t fit the model. But if you read through the 3/50 project site – they aren’t against such business – they just don’t fit the strict model.
Now I actually do spend at money at local business. the big grocery stores, clothing stores, and hardware stores that I use are chains. Sadly, book buying is mostly on line – but if I am near a bookstore – I buy.
I’ve read a few post about not buying for the holidays – but I think supporting the local independent businesses is a better idea.
So some local favorites:
I’m wondering if I can make a bigger list, by thinking about it a little more