Being a boutique owner is a wild ride, let me tell you. A wild, fantastic, amazing ride full of adventure, unexpected twists and turns, and non-stop adrenaline. One of the biggest twists we face in the boutique world right now is ever-changing e-commerce and "the big guys". I'll refer to them as "the big guys", but you know who I'm talking about. The guys who are busy flying to the moon with their profits from their large corporations, and the similar companies they run with.
Don't get me wrong, "the big guys" serve many needs and I never in my wildest dreams have any desire to compete with them. What I do wish to share within this post is the importance of the boutique and small business community and the direct impact it has on our local communities.
Where you choose to spend your hard-earned money matters, and here are a few of the impacts it can have:
1. Through paychecks and taxes, boutiques put money back directly into the community they are a part of.
2. They employ local people, where many of "the big guys" are outsourcing their positions overseas as much as possible, or replacing their human interaction with an algorithm.
3. Having multiple boutiques to shop from increases the variety of choices you have as a consumer. As each boutique serves different needs, they can uniquely pivot based on the needs of their customers and be more nimble with the merchandise they bring in. (Anyone remember the racks and racks of stale merchandise stuck in the clearance section at one of "the big guys" recently? Their product is bought in such bulk that they can't pivot quickly if you don't like the product. They, and you, are stuck with it. In boutiques, we listen to your feedback and make buying choices daily based upon your needs.)
4. Boutiques spawn creativity and innovation. Stepping into one, you'll instantly feel this. There's always something new and exciting in the boutique world and each staff is working hard to show you the best of the best.
5. We're better able to build personal relationships with our customers. When you walk into a boutique, you're stepping into someone's dream come true. We deeply care about you as the customer and will often remember where you're headed to for vacation or ask about your son's hockey game. We remember how those jeans fit you last time and know instantly what would work well for you.
6. When "the big guys" have shareholders and boards to report to, what matters most is profit. This often leads to their frontline workers suffering the most, and their quality being poor. I've yet to meet a boutique owner who has told me this for their own store. Instead, I often hear how hard owners work to make things great for their teams, how much they truly value and appreciate them, and how their teams feel like a second family (I know mine does!!). They are also constantly sourcing the highest quality they can find, because they know it represents them and their brand.
7. When you spend money in a boutique, the owner of that boutique is more likely to reinvest it back into the community. Whether we're shopping at the locally-owned hardware store for supplies, getting a gift for a friend at another boutique, or donating to our children's school event, it's all staying in our local community.
Long story short, shop local. Shop local as much as you can and use "the big guys" when you have to. When our boutiques and small business thrive, as ALL win.