Friday, June 25, 2010

Localism in Action

Yesterday I had an experience that was a perfect example of why ownership matters and why the very happiest shopping experiences come in locally owned and operated businesses. It was a simple, yet elegant and totally satisfying experience at Square Deal Lumber Company.

Wednesday night was the first evening of the week that I had time to mow my yard. Of course, it was also too hot for humans to actually be outside, so I waited until nearly dark to do my work. As is usually the case when I try to squeeze an outdoor task into a very limited time slot, something went wrong. This time it was my trusty Echo trimmer that refused to run long enough to tame the weeds around my yard.

Thursday morning I threw the trimmer into the back of my car to drop it off at Square Deal Lumber where I had purchased it many years before. Since we are in the heart of the mowing season, I fully expected them to take the unit in and tell me it should be ready in a week or so, but that is not what happened in this wonderful little establishment owned and staffed by folks who live right here among us. When I walked in the door with by dress shirt and tie on while clutching a very used trimmer, I was immediately acknowledged and within minutes a very nice fellow was asking about my problem with the trimmer. As I described the symptoms he took it out of my hands and walked toward his work bench. "Have you got a minute?" he said, "because if I don't fix it now it is going to be sometime tomorrow before I can get to it." "Why of course I have a minute," said I (even though the prospect of getting it back the next day was way more than I had hoped for).

In five minutes he disassembled, diagnosed, repaired, and returned the trimmer to my hands repaired. He also refused to allow me to pay for the repair! This, friends and neighbors, is not something that would occur at any big box retailer or foreign owned establishment. This is the kind of treatment that can occur in small towns where the locals support these businesses by trading with them even though the initial price might be a little higher than the big box retailer. This is the very heart of localism and the concept of a sustainable local economy where we vote for our happiness with the dollars we spend every day.

Cheers to you Square Deal Lumber Company! Now my neighbors will not have to look at my unkempt yard any longer.

4 comments:

Kim & Bev said...

Thanks for sharing with us Billy. Although, I am not surprised about Square Deal Lumber Company. We used them to build our new home 5 years ago. They were incredible the whole time. Anything we needed, they were right on top of it. Thanks, again Square Deal Lumber.
Kim & Bev Braun
(Buffalo Nickel Ranch)

Billy Ray said...

via email from Bill Bucher

I am certainly appreciative that Billy Ray took the time to write his complimentary email to the Sustainable Glasgow membership. To give credit where it is due, the Square Deal employee who helped Billy with his Echo trimmer is John Goad. Many of you may know John; he seems to know just about everyone within a sizeable radius. I first saw John in 1991 when we owned the concrete plant in Glasgow and we were supplying the concrete for the intersection of West Main Street and the Bypass (which is still there!). John was on the contractor's crew putting down the concrete and he was working twice as hard as anyone else on the job site. When the job was finished in early 1992, I asked him to come to work for Square Deal. He drove a concrete truck for us until we sold the plant, at which time I asked him to work for us at our building materials store in Glasgow. John is popular with our customers and will go out of his way to take care of them.
Bill Bucher
Square Deal Lumber Company

Billy Ray said...

via email from Jeff Harned

Yes a wonderful experience for you, but also the problem. Your experience left you all warm and fuzzy, but Bill's feeling is more like a hunger pain. No revenue. Not your fault, but the problem. Our local businesses need a side of revenue to go with those warm fuzzys they serve up. And while you bought your trimmer at Square Deal, all to often our neighbors choose to purchase at a Big box store, worring little about service in our disposable world.
The biggest shame, we have the power to fix this right here in our community, with no outside help.

Billy Ray said...

Jeff, very well put. I would have actually felt better about the amazing service if they had let me pay. On the other hand, that transaction becomes powerful marketing and it is certain I will purchase something there very soon to offset the loss they had that day.

I wish we could get more locals to understand how important the dollars they spend are to creating the kind of community we live in. Want more local businesses where we can have great experiences like this one? I recommend that we all adhere to the principles recommended at http://www.the350project.net/dine_local_home.html Pick three local businesses you would miss if they were gone, then promise to spend $50 at each of them each month. You don't have to just wish for a better community. You can vote for one each time you get out your checkbook or wallet.