Three Cheers for the Little Guy!
With the ever increasing amount of big box stores and the decline of the little, local guy, how can anyone go out there in the world with the lofty hopes of introducing a product or idea that will actually succeed at a high level? Move over Burt’s Hardware in Tampa (for many decades) and make room for The Home Depot and Lowe’s.
Don’t even get me started on the banking industry! I started my business bank account with the local branch behind me only to have them become SouthTrust, who was then bought out by Wachovia, only to become Wells Fargo. If I had known this, shouldn’t I have just opened an account at Wells Fargo? These banks seem to get swallowed up by one another; sooner or later you’ll only have two or three options and that’s it. This common practice led to the deregulation of AT&T because they had a monopoly on the telephone industry. Remember the days of switching phone companies and you had to change your phone number when you did that? What a nightmare!
This brings me back to the entrepreneur, or what I’m referring to as the “little guy” in all of this.
The little guy has a terrific product, service, or idea and just wants to make an honest living by getting it out there. They may spend thousands, even hundreds of thousands on their passion to ensure its success. These people have some threads in common.
We spend the bulk of our time at my company creating marketing ideas to get these people noticed and sold in the miasma of retail and wholesale out there. It seems as if their only option is to get picked up by a big box/big name outlet with their margins pared down so far that their dream gets whittled away with it. I compare it to getting a hit song. There are thousands of very talented musicians out there, but only a few make it to the top.
So What’s an Individual to Do?
In St. Petersburg, Ester Venouziou created Local Shops 1 encouraging everyone in the community to shop local. You can find out more at: https://www.facebook.com/localshops1com
Started in 2008 and now with almost 23,000 likes, LocalShops1 is a very noble idea that a lot of people, including myself subscribe to and hope that others do as well. Just think about the impact you can have by taking one extra moment to consciously support a local orsmall entrepreneur. It can make a world of difference to the entire economy at the local as well as other levels. According to Local Shops 1, of every dollar you spend locally, about 70 cents stays in your own community. Of every dollar spent at a national big box store, less than 40 cents stays locally.
Walmart periodically runs a contest to “Get On the Shelf” in their store. I find this process ingenious at various levels simply because:
- The little guy can attempt to get their product into Walmart and they base store entry on public voting via their Facebook login
- It’s a good way for Walmart to cull or vet the products without expending employee time to do it by letting us (the public) provide the service
Now the little guy is “exposed” with their product and their heart on their sleeve hoping for the chance to get into Walmart. Meanwhile, while waiting patiently to get a verdict, they keep moving forward to get their products sold and noticed. I’ve had two clients participate in the contest and advance two out of three levels, but not quite to the final level “On The Shelf.”
Here are links to some other great local little guys and all are passionate about their products. I wanted to share their names so people have other options. Some have their products sold nationally, others are clients or I’m a customer, but they all have one thing in common and that’s quality backed by integrity.
Here are links to their websites or social media in case you’re in the market for:
- Paint, concrete stains, and roof coatings (interior and exterior)
ALSO available on Amazon.com http://amzn.to/1pm9Jj7 OR
Soon to be on Lowes.com as well!
- Excellent dry erase products and whiteboard in a box ONLINE (super versatile so you can turn any wall into a huge dry erase board)
- Beautiful one-of-a-kind jewelry, jewelry classes or expert repair:
- A traditional European pub experience with live music while in St. Pete, FL:
- Helpful tools and products, like the Shopping Pal, by woman inventor, Zoya: