You may have heard or read that Exeter is a Top 20 finalist in the Small Business Revolution Main Street Series. The program – sponsored by Deluxe Corporation – is entering its third season. I watched both seasons 1 and 2 long before Exeter was even a nominee. You can watch online from The Small Business Revolution website and now you can watch on Hulu.
As a small business owner in Exeter, I truly believe this would be an amazing opportunity for our Main Street community. Owning a small business is a daily challenge, a challenge that small business owners embrace, but, certainly, having an organization like Deluxe come into town with their experts would be a once in a lifetime opportunity.
There has been a lot of buzz online about Exeter’s nomination. We love your enthusiasm for the town and the passion many of you have conveyed in your posts in support of the town. The Main Street Series program however, is about helping out a handful of brick and mortar stores with whatever each business needs. This need could be a new store layout, updated branding, or possibly a new website.
I always love when the experts on the show ask if the business has a business plan. Now, I have an MBA and I understand the importance of a business plan, but when you buy a business in 10 days that doesn’t leave much time for a formal, comprehensive business plan. Ten years later and my business is still without a formal business plan.
Like many business owners, you have a passion, a talent, a vision but sometimes the business side of running the business gets lost. There just aren’t enough hours in the day to do all that needs to be done (and have quality family time and sufficient rest). That doesn’t stop us. We keep going and striving. We keep trying to make a difference for our business, our family, and our community.
In the ten years that I have owned a downtown business I have seen many small businesses come and go. I’m sure I won’t recall all of them but here is my attempt in no specific order:
The Loaf and Ladle, Santerre’s Stones & Stuff, Verizon Wireless, Forever Young, Good Karma Café, 3 Brothers Marketplace, All Beads Considered, Powder House Restaurant, Sugar and Ice, High Street Market, Pimentos Restaurant, Orange Leaf Frozen Yogurt, Reminisce, Art&tiques, La Cave a Vin, Two Flights Down, Simply Vogue, Cornucopia, and Coventry Cottage, Aura Day Spa, Sully’s Ice Cream, The Copper Canoe, The Party People, White Lily Teas, and Humble Pie.
I know what you are thinking, “geez, I forgot about that store/restaurant – I really wish it was still around.” Well, that, my friends, is the dilemma. Shoppers don’t often know when a business owner is struggling or considering closing. If you did, you might make more of an effort to get out and support it. I remember when Cornucopia closed a few years ago, people were shocked as all seemed fine and the business owner appeared to be doing all the right things.
Don’t assume all is fine and please don’t assume the Academy keeps all small businesses in Exeter in business. If there are available parking spaces on Water Street in December that might be an indication to get out and spend some of your holiday dollars locally. I urge you to support these businesses – the businesses that continue to support your church, your daughter’s athletic team, your son’s scouting group, and the non-profit that does so much in the community.
Just remember back to last weekend, Ring in the Season, and think about all of the small businesses that supported the Festival of Trees, the Exeter Rotary Auction, the AIM auction, the Holiday Parade, the lights, the Pooch Parade, and much more.
Besides shifting some of your shopping locally, how else can you help? Well, I would urge you to go to the Small Business Revolution Facebook page and scroll down to the Exeter announcement on November 28th. I would urge you to like the post, share the post, comment on the importance of having a strong and vibrant small business community, how Exeter businesses are deserving of the opportunity, how investment in this community would impact Exeter and the surrounding towns.
Exeter is an amazing community, but, like all communities, there are challenges and the small business owners are well aware of all of them. Exeter is very picturesque and we seem to have everything going for us but try not to judge a book by its cover. Small business brick-and-mortar stores across this country need to continually reevaluate their business strategies for success. The Small Business Revolution program could come to Exeter and help a few of our beloved small businesses with some of these challenges, putting them in a better position to weather the storm ahead.
An opportunity like this doesn’t come around very often. Please do what you can. It could make all the difference.