Converted from paper version of the Broad Ripple Gazette (v07n11)
Howling at the Moon by Susan Smith
posted: May 28, 2010
Recently you read in the Broad Ripple Gazette about the campaign kickoff at the Riviera Club for the new movement "Midtown Loves Local". This is a coming together of local Midtown businesses to promote their love of Midtown to its residents, visitors and neighbors. You will soon see the "Midtown Loves Local" logo on windows, t-shirts, shopping bags and more as the campaign spreads throughout Broad Ripple, Butler-Tarkington, Meridian-Kessler and Mapleton Fall-Creek neighborhoods. On December 26, 2008 I wrote the following for my column. It remains one of my favorite articles. It is appropriate to share again as I am sure all local retailers felt as I did and still do, a year and a half after the announcement of the present day recession. Please indulge me as I wish you a Happy New Year and reminisce about Christmas as we today approach the 90 degree temps
Broad Ripple and the surrounding area are full of unique shopping opportunities. I would like to thank all of you for supporting the small retailer over the holiday season. I have been asked by many of you how we are doing. I appreciate the question. It shows you care and we have become a team. My answer is, we are doing fine and I think we will continue to do fine. But it wouldn't be without you and your support. You have choices. Some choose large stores with large inventories, large staff and large discounts. Others choose small stores with a small drive, small staff with large smiles who know you or want to. Don't be fooled thinking small stores have larger prices because they don't buy in volume and have to charge more. That's not always true. In the case of our store we don't have the overhead (big rent, staff, big utilities, advertising, etc.) so we don't need to take a big markup. Now that the economy is tough, retailers and restaurants are taking less of a markup. One restaurant owner told me that the price of her ingredients keeps going up but she cannot afford to keep raising her prices. There is only so much you are willing to pay for a chicken salad sandwich. So she is absorbing some of the costs and making less in order for you to keep coming. In my case dog food is the same scenario. Some of our cans have increased, to us, thirty cents each. We have not passed the full increase to you but have absorbed some of it so as not to scare you away with sticker shock. We believe good pet nutrition helps avoid vet bills and saves money in the long run. We will all be looking for ways to save money when the January Christmas bills start rolling in.
The best part about small retail is the good feelings, the relationships, the step-in-the-past experience. Two weeks ago it became abundantly clear to me when I received a phone call at the store from a customer named Charlie. He called to tell me that he was doing some carpentry work down the street and was out in the yard sawing. He looked up and saw hundreds of Sandhill Cranes migrating. He thought I would like to see them too so he called me and told me to go outside and look up because they were flying by right then. I asked him how he knew what they were and he said that he has known about Sandhill Cranes since he was a boy. I have never heard of them. We hung up and I stood there thinking. Why would he think I was interested? He didn't have my phone number. It took effort on his part to look it up and make the call. Then it clicked. We have become friends. We have a relationship. He cared enough to share what was meaningful to him, something he has witnessed since he was a boy. I doubt he would call the clerk at Target. Maybe, but doubtful. Then there was the couple who baked us a Christmas pie. There were Christmas cards delivered. We gave the mailman a box of chocolates. Santa Claus came to our corner to be photographed with the pets. The neighbor came in to tell me the air in my tire was low and was worried it might go flat. Volunteer neighbors came with paint brushes to give a facelift to the blighted, vacant store fronts across the street. This is the city, the village, the corner. It is reminiscent of the Norman Rockwell days that graced the covers of The Saturday Evening Post. Those were feel good days and yet they were some economically depressed days as well.
My Santa shopped At Rustic Moon Outfitters for the best slippers ever. My cat Sara loved the brown paper bag they came home in. Pets make you smile and so do loyal customers and friends. Happy New Year!
Susan Smith is a life-long area resident and is the owner of City Dogs Grocery located at 52nd and College. Send your pet related questions/comments to susan@BroadRippleGazette.com