Well, 2020 is almost to an end and the main things that we have to show for it are face rashes and a loss of sanity. Has this year been something that anyone could have ever predicted? No. Can you change how the end of the year will be? Yes. The fact of the matter is that this time of year (October, November and December) are always the most frantic and crazed times of year. Not only for retailers, but for people in general. I know that this year has been nothing short of horrible. But, with family businesses and small specialty store closing left and right, this needs to be said and I will happily do so.
It's time for a Hail Mary Pass for support. The fourth quarter of the year is what every small business counts on for the overall success of their year. It is VITALLY IMPORTANT that we all support our local stores year around, but now it is more important than ever. Instead of ordering grandma slippers from Amazon or grandpa a shirt from Lands End, order from small retailers in your community. Support the people that have given you discounts when you didn't ask for them. Support people who light up when you come into their store, not just for what you'll buy, but for the joy you bring to their lives. I will tell you as a specialty men's clothier, the best thing is seeing our customers around the holidays.
This time of year is a time of thankfulness, joy and love. We cannot let this year end on the note of sadness and grief as small businesses are forced to close their doors because people were not coming in during their most busy season. We cannot allow ourselves to forget the joy that comes from this time of year and the fact that bringing people together means being able to support the small businesses that have supported and helped you throughout your life. I can tell you story after story, but I will leave you with just two.
During this viral year, we had a customer that usually shops with us on the regular, not be able to come in. He knew we were struggling. He knew we needed help and he knew how he could help us. He called me and asked to purchase a sizeable gift card over the phone and said he would use that gift card when things were better for us. He said, "I want to show my love and support to you all. Not just because of this crazy time, but because you all have been so good to me!" This is just one of the story that has happened so many times with this. It still shocks and amazes me how much friendliness and passion can make a business successful and how it can make your customers feel love for you from that. Small business does this, small business hones in on relationships and small businesses must survive.
The next story is rather simplistic, but it truly shows the value of small businesses. Over the years, there have been a ton of people that Rick Coffee has helped (ME INCLUDED). He would hate me for writing this story, but it needs to be shared. He once had a young guy, years ago, that didn't have very much money and was just starting in the financial services business. Rick basically gave him his first bit of true men's clothing. Now, that customer is one of the most successful financial services provider in Lynchburg. That customer came in over the past few months and truly blessed us with support.
With both of these stories being shared, tell me one thing. Will BIG BOX stores ever have stories like these? Will they ever truly garner your respect or admiration or love? The answer to these questions is no. So, who will you support when the time comes? Will you catch our HAIL MARY PASS?
-James R. Bower Jr. "Jimmy"