Wednesday, August 18, 2010

N 2gether Now

Buy low, sell high. That's the game, right? The simple rule that underpins all business, the Canon Truth by which an enterprise will either thrive or starve.

You get your goods and services from the lowest bidder, and then you turn them around for the maximum markup the market will tolerate. Then you sit back in your highback armchair and polish your brandy snifter with your monogrammed ascot. Quite.

But wait - that's big business. Business where the target market is measured in eight or nine digits, and where the product line is cobbled together from dozens of globalized production sources. That's Business Gone Wild, living the fast life in the back of Joe Francis' tour bus. But what's going on at street level?

The inspiring answer is on display at any number of modern small outfits - businesses who insist on taking the time to find the best bidder, not the lowest one. Take a look at Seattle's own Melrose Market - a collaborative project that has the Capitol Hill foodie crowd at rapt attention. These are small businesses that care about their product, their customers, and their relationship with their neighbors. The Calf and Kid isn't going to sell you cheese it isn't proud of; nor is Rain Shadow Meats going to offer you a cut of meat they aren't absolutely confident in. And neither business is going to charge you more than their exceptional product is worth. They get it; they're part of the neighborhood, and part of the larger community of principled small business that's taking root all over the country.

"Buy Local" has become the battlecry of the New Responsible, but like most simple battlecries, the mantra loses some nuance in the chanting. Why buy local? Why collaborate, as neighborhood small businesses? Why seek out quality suppliers in your area at potentially greater expense than a national distributor? For us, it's the same reason we're happy to be conducting a private investment campaign instead of seeking capital through the banks: it really matters who ends up benefitting from our hard work and success. By selecting our suppliers locally, we can know that every dollar passing through our register contributes to building a healthier, stronger small business climate in Washington. Every customer that has a good experience strengthens not only our tavern, but also the local businesses that we buy from. Whenever we attract foot traffic, the Capitol Hill businesses around us get stronger as well.

There was a popular concept bouncing around the Internet a few years back which posited that corporations, when examined using criteria designed to evaluate personality types, tend to operate as classic sociopaths. We'd like to put forward that when we look around our neighborhood, we're proud to see small businesses that exemplify sanity, consideration, and a real drive to support this community, not just benefit from it. It's a good place to be; the modern commercial equivalent of wiping an honest day's sweat off one's brow... and we can't wait to take our place in the ecosystem.

So sign on. Ask us for a copy of the business plan. Find out how you can be a part of this venture, and how you can be part of making our modern business world a better place one storefront at a time. It's an exciting time to be stepping into the marketplace; this is a moment when principled, dedicated entrepreneurship has the very real ability to make a big difference in our neighborhood, our city, our country. Let's do this thing.

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