There is has been some talk about buying locally from merchants who are not part of the big chain stores during this Holiday season. Wal-Mart is one that gets bad press from the “buy local” fans. But can buying local really work? And in fact, how long can a local business endure? I found some businesses that have done just that. Worked and endured. And here they are.
Chagrin Hardware has been open since 1857 in Chagrin Falls, Ohio. Overlooking the Riverside Park and Chagrin River it continues to thrive as a local business. In fact, a local customer, Jim Black got the idea to do a “cash mob” on the store. He said “It began quietly, as an email to 40 friends”.
The Moravian Book Shop has been open since before America was a country. It was established in 1745 in Bethlehem, PA. Their claim is “We do everything Amazon can do”. I think I like this bookstore mostly because it reminds of the movie “You Got Mail” where Meg Ryan is a bookstore owner who is muscled out by big bookstore business. Why does Moravian Book Shop continue to thrive? It has to be because it is rooted in the community. It keeps the community engaged and is able to change with the times. Famous for its Moravian Stars created since the early 1800s to teach children geometry it continues to sell the stars along with their books. They offer special reading programs such as the one on December 1st, “Take your Child to a Bookstore Day”. Once again, another small business proving that buying local can be sustained through the winds of change.
Though Colburn’s no longer carries high-button shoes the store that opened in 1832 in Belfast, Maine continues to sell shoes. It has kept a lot of its original feeling like the rolling ladders so that Colburn’s employees can reach the boxes of shoes.“Colburn Shoe Store is proud of its past and still reflects the image of a small, old-fashioned shoe store. Unlike outlets or self-service shoe stores, the people at Colburn’s take the time to give their customers the service that has made them what they are… The Oldest Shoe Store in America.” Again another mom and pop store that has stood the test of time and change. Many customers continually buy locally, generation after generation.
In Southampton, N.Y. is a hardware store that has the feel that childhood memories are made of. Henry Hildreth bills Hildreth’s Home Goods as “America’s oldest family owned department store”. He tells of his great-great-grandfather who opened its doors in 1842. “The Hildreths’ voyage began in 1635 when Richard and Thomas left England to escape religious persecution and set sail for America……”
There are other mom and pop stores across America. New entrepreneurs trying to cut the way through the world of consumerism. Knowing that these business still continue to grow tells me that we have room for individual growth in America. That consumers are loyal. Yes, we have room for the Wal-Marts and the mom and pop stores. That is the beauty of America, there can be room for everyone!