Sunday, February 04, 2007

Weighing in on Small Business

In the circles in which I run (academics, progressives) there is a general feeling that small business is a fine thing. Local, independent operations, run by ordinary folk who call their customers by name and go that extra mile because of the pride they take in their work and in their communities -- this is the vision that is usually offered. By shopping at such places, I am told, I keep big corporations at bay and support the local economy.

It all sounds very nice and homey and wholesome. But I find it harder to believe every day.

Living in a moderate-sized town these past six and a half years, I've come to feel that a great many small businesses are small for a reason. If the operators knew what they were doing, they'd be bigger.

Today, for instance, I decided it was time to get a new bathroom scale (yeah, I wore the old one out, hardee-har-har...). So I set out into town to find the sort I wanted. Digital and modern, you know the kind I mean. Anyway, to the hardware store -- no dice. They had exactly one scale in stock and it was a crummy dial model. So the big grocery stores (these are stores that sell barbells and cell phones -- is a scale too big a leap?) but no luck at either of them. So on to the pharmacies (three different ones). The closest I got was when I was told they sometimes get them in around Christmas time. I almost asked if they sold time machines, then, but I'm trying to rein myself in these days.

So home it was, and on to the internet where I found just what I wanted at a site called Canadian Weigh. Stylish and modern my new scale is and packed with cool features. And it was on sale too. This company is going to be big.

So my hard-earned dollars that might have gone to the local economy -- might have if any one of six different stores had what I was in the market for -- has now gone elsewhere.

And no one in any of those stores knew my name.

No comments: