Hometown goods, heartfelt service during Small Business Saturday

RAPID CITY, S.D. – Small Business Saturday: a day to support our local stores and, in turn, our community.

Dozens of downtown Rapid City shops offered deals and sales to encourage visitors to shop small and keep the money flowing throughout the community.

Alternative Fuel Coffee House Owner Patti Griffin anticipated a great sales bump during the holiday.

“Being Small Business Saturday, we knew that we were just going to be wonderfully inundated by the locals,” Griffin said.

Prairie Edge General Manager Dan Tribby said that the big day contributes to the overall wealth of the community.

“We are your hometown partners; we’re your neighbors,” Tribby said. “You’re investing in other peoples businesses, but your dollars are staying local, and it keeps it here.”

But why stay local, when you could stay home, turn on your computer and shop online?

In a day and age where many can buy anything and everything you want online, there’s one business model that’s left out – the small business – and for no good reason, especially when it touts great customer service and very personable people.

“It’s not this, ‘Who did you draw when you called the 800 number [scenario],'” Tribby added. “You talk to a person here; you get to come in and see us, and we get to do the same thing.”

What online retailers also lack is a face-to-face connection with the customer.

Donald Smith has patronized Alternative Fuel for 13 years. He said that one can develop a connection with the businesses that you frequent.

“It’s more of a personal experience, rather than shopping other places online,” Smith said. “You get to know the people.”

Meanwhile, brick-bound stores allow one to develop a personal relationship with sellers passionate and knowledgeable about what they do.

Roam’N Around Co-owner Jon Machacek said that his employees can relate to customers, whom they share hobbies with.

“They all get out and use the product, and they bike and they hike and they know the Black Hills,” Machacek said. “It’s really easy to direct people on where to go and what fun things to do, along with using the product.”

Local storefronts will also generally guarantee an authentic product; what you see is what you get.

Machacek added that being able to physically test a potential purchase can save time and money.

“It’s sure nice to try it on ahead of time versus having it shipped to your house and then finding out it’s the wrong size and shipping it back and going to the post office.”

When you buy local, you’re often buying from families that live right here in the Black Hills.

Griffin operates her coffee shop alongside her family. She described her husband as a “cheerleader” and her children as “little helpers.”

“We have Sumner, who’s in high school and just helping take out the trash, clean off tables, do whatever that he can do,” Griffin said. “Then, I’ve got my two little guys, Aiden and Ansen, and they are helping just behind the scenes as well.”

You don’t have to be a regular to get to know your neighborhood store owners – or for them to know you.

“It stuns the customers that they’re gone a month or two, they walk in and Alex says, ‘Well, hey, Sharon! How’ve you been?’ It is such a family – such a nice, knitted community,” Griffin finished.

Categories: Local News, South Dakota News