Thursday, March 24, 2011

Think globally, shop locally, and pull up a chair, this might take a minute.

I stirred up quite a crazy debate today. I said one thing about local businesses, and I was quickly flooded with opinions from both sides of debates. I think this is something that needs to be discussed. I love local businesses, in fact, I come from a long line of personal business owners. In my short life have worked with many local businesses and enjoyed them.

All that being said, I have noticed a trend in Amarillo and I don't think that it's a very good marketing trend. I have affectionately called it "banking on local." This trend consists of local companies only differentiating themselves from the chains only by being local. I'm not impressed. People of Amarillo are a lot more creative than that, and if they aren't, there's another empty storefront.

Local companies must think globally, and be ingenious. Creative niches are how to get the job done. I have friends that own The Ground Cafe in Amarillo. This little coffee shop on the ground floor of the Chase Tower in downtown Amarillo has created such a buzz you'd think they were the original coffee shop in Amarillo. There are other local coffee shops, and yes there is Starbucks. They compete and very successfully I might add, because they know who they are, and they put themselves in the right place. They sell good coffee and they sell it at a smart price. I talked to them about this how microcosm of local versus out-of-towners, and this is what they said, "We wouldn't be here is Starbucks wasn't in town." They carved their place because a national chain brought relevance to their shop. They built The Ground Cafe about 8-9 years after Starbucks had been in town. There attitude to their customers is, "We don't want our customers to feel bad if they go to Starbucks, WE go to Starbucks." They don't see the national chain as competition, but a vehicle where by they can be seen and heard because they created a place in Amarillo. They are local, and they are good, and they compete because they are good at what they do (and they are the nicest people I know).

So, Amarillo business owners, I get it, you're local. I hear a loud and clear.... BUT, if you think that's enough, I think you're sadly mistaken.