In these trying economic times, it is easy to lose focus of our blessings.
I spent an amazing hour yesterday afternoon with a dear friend in Hartsdale, visiting Trader Joe's, Bagels n' More and The Bakery. The purpose of our visit was to secure donations for upcoming coffee hours at a local church.
I have secured these donations in the past, recognizing that some stores simply throw their day-old and otherwise outdated items in the trash, not sure how to get them to the homeless shelter. That was last year - I worried that a year later, I would be met with some resistance. Not so. I assured the manager at the Bagel shop that the church we represented was indeed affiliated with an ecumenical food pantry and that we would be sure to get day old bagels to homeless and otherwise downtrodden Westchester residents. In exchange for our tax exempt ID form, we will now receive as many leftover bagels for coffe hour and the homeless as our little cars can carry (okay, so I don't own a car these days - trying to reduce my carbon footprint). The point is, we asked, they said yes and now we will receive.
As I continue to read the disturbing reports of Black Friday's WalMart stampede on Long Island, I am truly thankful for small business owners - they get it on a basic and fundamental level - they understand that their livelihood depends on good customer relations and giving back to their community. They also recognize, as do astute and educated consumers, that a large portion of every dollar spent in their store stays in the local community and does not go else where into the black hole of big-box land profits.
I found this great article in the Wall Street Journal online, whilst researching for some statistics for this story - please check it out:
http://blogs.wsj.com/independentstreet/2008/11/26/small-businesses-give-and-get-backfrom-their-community/ - Here is a teaser from the article: "Three–quarters of small business owners said they donate a percentage of their profits to charity, with 5% of small firms donating more than 10%, according to a fall 2008 survey by American Express. "
Remember your local shops when shopping this holiday season - even locally owned franchises are better than big-box stores for your local economy - but close, buy local, do something good.