In my 59 years of living in Highland County, I have seen many businesses come and go. We used to have several options for a product, now we have one or two. The larger corporations bring jobs and tax dollars to the community, which is good for all. It also brings lower prices, variety and other good things.
Across the country, the smaller business has been taken over by the larger ones. Every election year politicians tell us that will change, but somehow it never does. Being a small business owner can be a very tough road to travel. It is so good to still have them here with us. These are the folks that greet us by name when we walk in.
Growing up near Hoagland, I remember the Hoagland Grocery. It was owned and ran by Claude and Lucille Jones. They watched me grow up. They also built the Tastee Freeze across the road. These are kind of the folks that sponsor ball teams, buy our kids’ animals at the fair, donate to our local charities and this list goes on and on.
I was in one of our local businesses just last week. Mr. Bob Hottle, Hillsboro High School class of 1961 is the owner of Blossoms and Buds in Hillsboro. Along with his wife, Beverly, they purchased the business in 1992. Fresh cut flowers are put together in the store and can be delivered anywhere you need them to go. There is also a wide variety of decorative and seasonal items. Michelle Wyatt and Linda Fairly have worked there almost as long as Bob has. I asked him what he thought the reason was that he is still there after so many years. He responded with two reasons, his high priority to customer service and selling top quality merchandise.
Just for a moment, I would like us all to maybe be a little more grateful for all the small business owners for what they do for our local community. According to what I could find, a small business is an entity of under 500 employees. The last study, done in 2018, suggested there were 30.2 million of them in the U.S. That is a huge number.
We all get to choose our own career paths. What benefits are there for anyone to choose to own a small business? Well, it can offer you independence, setting your hours, unlimited income potential, take days off when you want to, you get to make your own rules. You get the point I am making.
Why would you not want to purchase your job by buying your own business? You are not only responsible for your income and to keep the doors open, but you are responsible for your employees and their families. You must pay taxes for yourself and others. It would be very easy for all to tell who you are — you are the one that is always there. You get asked almost daily to donate to a local worthy cause. You know better than anyone that bankruptcy is the No. 1 cause of failure. You wonder to yourself why your best friend goes to the larger store to shop instead of using you. All the while you know you really can’t say or do anything about it.
Now, I am sure most folks that want to be their boss love what they do. It can bring so much joy and a sense of accomplishment. But let’s face it, anyone that has been there will agree it can be a struggle and also rewarding.
If you reading this and thinking, what is the point in all this, well, here you go. Shop locally. It does matter. If nothing else, doesn’t it feel good to be thanked and greeted when you walk into a store? It gives me the feeling that I chose the right place to shop when an actual person takes notice and thanks me for my business. In my early sales training, I was told there is nothing much sweeter than the sound of your name.
Is that true?
My hat is off to all the small business owners in Highland County.
Randy Butler is a lifelong resident of Highland County and a licensed real estate agent for Classic Real Estate in Hillsboro.