We moved to a small town from the Big City because armageddon was coming. But that’s not what this story is about. In the small town were a couple of decent-sized stores – a five and dime and a bakery where my Granma made Maryanne’s with real whipped cream. There was a grocery store and a pharmacy.

And there was Jack Tesky’s Trading Post. And it was perfect and scary to imagine what was behind the high dark wooden counter. It smelled like all the best parts of a barn. Old wood and tobacco and kittens hiding under the straw. It was the store you’d go into after armageddon to find anything you might need.

I went in with my dad, before armageddon and before school started because I needed shoes and the ones at the five and dime store cost too much.

Ask anyone. Whatever you need is cheaper, easier to get, and faster to find when you order it from somewhere else.

Local simply can’t work. Not in this world. The best deals are online and can be found as you sit at your desk and you scroll through your feed. Online is competitive and is the new way to shop. It is as local as your desk or the phone in your pocket. And that is close.

Being made in North America means more expensive. Walking down Main Street is even more expensive, inconvenient, and a waste of time. That is what they say, right?

Jack leaned over the counter and asked me, standing there quiet and shy, what I needed and my dad answered. I needed shoes and Jack rummaged around and brought back a pair of white with red (I was so excited- they were red!!) with their strings tied together. Not in a box. And they fit, with room to grow and we had $5 and wouldn’t you know it, they were $5.

Jack Tesky’s is gone. I took my little boys to the mall for shoes- any color they wanted and they paid half if they wanted a really crazy expensive style…. and now, as young men, they can click and buy whatever they want and like magic, it is in the mailbox maybe tomorrow, maybe the next day.

Local brick-and-mortar stores can’t compete with that, right?

Except, they have. And they are. We like seeing people. Buying from people. Having a reason to be part of an exchange, beyond our keyboards. We love hearing people laugh and tell stories. And we like to laugh with them and tell some stories of our own.

Well, that sounds too good to be true. Sure, years ago in a small town with five bucks but today, online is where people are shopping!! – It’s where they Want to be! It’s where we Have to be!

Roughly translated “The sky is falling!! The Sky is falling!”

Here is some good stuff from last year to sink your hopeful teeth into.

1. The average person shops locally 213 times per year or once every 1.7 days.
2. 193 million, or 74% of all consumers, prefer to browse and/or buy locally (as opposed to online).

Both of the above from this article.

Click on that link. There are a lot of us, and a lot of information to prove we are there, cash and credit cards ready.

Did you click??

Okay… that sounds solid. But how do we make this work?

A retail business needs to invite people to come shop. There has to be a reason to drive to, park beside, and walk into a building selling something you can also find on your screen at home.

Service-based businesses need to give people a reason to pick them. To decide to work with and hire people from your hometown, city, or area.

Shopping where your heart is keeps your community vibrant, streets clean, and sidewalks friendly.

Online is often the first location potential clients look. But it’s rarely the only location. If you have a store with a door, (and that includes trucks and service vehicles) your online location is only your first step in inviting your people, your tribe, and your customers, to come see you. To call you. To have a coffee. To have a visit. To try on a size and see how it feels and fits and belongs to you.

We want to connect as people.

As a community. As a part of something tangible and bigger than your keyboard and a cardboard box left on a doorstep.

That’s why we can celebrate your online location and your store with a door and people and dust in the corners with a perfect ad. A unique invitation to come explore what you have who you are and why your business will fit in the lives of the people who need you.

Your invitation should be as personalized as your door, your shelving, your website, and your front counter. It should be about all those things and more. Having a store, providing a service, and being a merchant is an honored tradition, not to be taken lightly.

Jack Tesky would agree. Something about it just smells right.