Our farmers market (Fulton Street Farmers Market) is preparing to reopen Saturday. This exciting news has us thinking about the importance of local marketplace.
Reputable pop culture site fanpop recently conducted another series of surveys. When asked specific questions about what made The Brady Bunch or other famed sitcoms of our past the treasured icons they’ve become, the greater majority of responses described “simple, personal, relate-able, and local ” as ingredients for their mainstream success. When you stop and think about it (and that’s what we’re asking you to do here), the latter is where it begins. What does it really mean to be local? Has your experience of “local” been met with “simple, personal, and relate-able?” Let’s play further into this Brady Bunch example, where we believe the answer to at least one of these questions is easily found.
Who doesn’t remember Sam the Butcher? What makes Sam’s character unforgettable, assuming you’ve followed along up to this point? Some of the more popular answers offered through the fanpop survey included: “Sam was like extended family,” “Alice and the Brady family never really had to say much, Sam often knew their needs,” “Sam knew everyone in the Brady family well enough that it didn’t matter who showed up, he’d deliver every time,” and our personal favorite “Sam was the man, hands down.” We’re not sure if that last opinion is to be read into further or if it’s just machismo, but either way it’s hard to refute. Suffice it to say Sam was highly respected, trusted, and the person everyone turned to when there was a need for the type of services he offered. Doesn’t that describe what most business owners would like to achieve? Who wouldn’t want to be like Sam?
Whether it’s Sam the Butcher from The Brady Bunch, Aunt Bee of Mayberry, or perhaps even Arnold (early Pat Morita fame) from Happy Days, the aforementioned “simple, personal, and relate-able” apply across the board. These are characters people easily fell in love with, and attributes they shared helped pave the way for many more winning formulas in television. It’s less important who their successors might be today, rather we’d like to keep your attention on the heart of their character, respectively.
If you unpack the culture of these times and take a closer look at what worked best, you don’t really have to search further than local commerce. Aunt Bee may be the exception but she still carried the heartfelt mentality of raising Opie, not unlike Sam and Arnold did with their patrons. You see, in these times (fiction or not) there weren’t many national corporations competing for the attention of the public. The “big box” places existed but careful research shows local business owners weren’t nearly as threatened (if they saw them as a threat at all) because the community at large had committed to a sustainable strategy, not the least of which was their own engagement, to promote and utilize services available through their neighborhood grocer, dentist, butcher, farmer, mechanic, doctor, etc. How amazing would life be today if every one of us had our own “professional” when our need consisted of something we couldn’t/shouldn’t do ourselves? We realize this isn’t Little House on the Prairie and Grand Rapids is far too vast to suggest only a few people could handle the masses, but is it wrong to be motivated by the “quality” this notion affords? We think not. Of course, it can be taken too far and one doesn’t have to look any further than the 1998 drama Pleasantville for the most exaggerated example of this. After all, we’re not sure it’s a good idea for your doctor, postman, and baker to be the same person. You get the point.
Where does Community Automotive Repair fit into these examples? We’re glad you asked. We contend our commitment to “local” offers an experience very similar to Arnold’s Diner or Sam’s Butcher Shop. Our customers know we’ve served the greater Grand Rapids area since 1975, and since day one we’ve been devoted to doing so with friendly, honest, and dependable people. Although the marketplace shifted and radical changes occurred, we’ve never strayed from our core values and continue to offer the same level of quality our customers deserve and expect. We know and fully recognize that’s not possible without YOU. We’re in this together.
For us, local means family. Local also means sowing seeds into the community in which we/you live. Local is a partnership, where business owners and people that depend on their services stand in the gap for each other. Local is realizing your part in the equation and pursuing it with intense passion. Local most definitely, among other things, is “simple, personal, and relate-able.” Speaking emotionally, local is the feeling you get when you know you MATTER, when you can sense you’re not a mere statistic, and when you relate to the collective difference you’re making in the bigger picture. Local doesn’t happen without a community. As they say, “It takes a village…” and we’d like everyone reading this to know how much a privilege it’s been to be on this journey together. As we discuss the future and turn to our partners, friends, and family alike, we’re deeply grateful and look forward to providing local, honest service for many years to come.
We’d be remiss if we didn’t make it a point to thank the incredible team of Local First of West Michigan for the many great opportunities to collaborate. We decided long ago this was a movement and organization with which we placed a great deal of value, and they have truly surpassed any expectations we’ve had. If you are in local business and haven’t already joined forces with Local First, we greatly encourage doing so today. No business is too small or large, so long as you’re private (not publicly traded) and based in Michigan. Local First’s 10% Shift campaign promotes and validates the ideas behind this blog entry, that the community in which we live will be a far better place if we intentionally support locally owned and operated businesses FIRST.
Consider your part. Make a choice to save Michigan – buy local.
(Ann Arbor artist Amanda Jane Jones’ piece pictured above is for sale HERE)