A year ago, my middle kid Lucy (14) was campaigning hard for an after-dinner ice cream at The Charmery in Hampden. Like any responsible family, we are always trying to monitor our dessert intake with little success. When she noticed me wavering, she grabbed the dagger and went for the jugular. “Come on dad, it’s local!”
While this is a poor example of the importance of shopping local, it does reflect on the “local” zealots the Levinsons are. Why? Certainly, shopping local is not always easy or convenient.
There is a brotherhood and sisterhood to shopping local. Running a small business is not easy and I want to support others that are in the same fight. I feel like all the local merchants are related in a worthy cause. Also, I do not want to be a hypocrite. How can we ask our community to shop Charm City Run and then not shop local? If I can get something at Ayd Hardware, I will. I know the Ayds and when they need shoes they come here. There is an unspoken bond of sorts among us locals.
Personally, I do not like going places that could be located in Anywhere USA. I want a unique experience. There is nothing like Ayd, Mouth Party, Baba’s, Nalley, Trohv and the list goes on. I want to frequent the joints that make the Charm City the Charm City and Maryland, Maryland. I love this state and our beloved city. I want the things that make it cool to be around for a while and I know, along with many of you, how hard it is to stick around. I hope that Charm City Run makes our state a little better. I hope that we add to the experience and maybe someday people considering a move here will say, “Well, you know they have a great running scene in Maryland.”
Dare to dream, right? But, I truly think all of our small businesses add to this gravitational pull to the Land of Pleasant Living.
There is also something inherently stable and human about small business. Assuming a small business can make it, no person is a number in a small business. When I read about layoffs I think about how tough that must be on the owner but in large business that “owner” does not even know the person they just “downsized”. That human is just a number on a spreadsheet. Small businesses only lay people off as a measure of last resort because it is really hard. Small business owners get to know people and we like people and we mentor them and we watch them get married and have families and if they work hard we will do everything in our power to keep them around. A bad quarter or poor earnings results do not change this commitment even if owners have to take a little less.
I want to be part of this fairness and patronize businesses that do not need the ACA to mandate that they buy health insurance because they were already doing it. I want to support the humanity in business and the humanity lives in small business.
There are the facts of course and they make me smile:
- When you buy local, 73 cents of every dollar stays local. When you buy national that number goes down to 43 cents.
- Local merchants hire and retain better talent and that talent provides better customer service. BTW this talent is neat and fun and they are people that you want to get to know.
- Local merchants do more to support non-profits. Charm City Run donates 1% of its revenue back to Maryland focusing on the environment and the underserved. Check out the Severn and Midshore Riverkeepers, the Oyster Recovery Project, B.E.S.T., Bridges, The Living Classrooms, and Irvine Nature Center to name a few.
- Local merchants buy local and source local. Does it make me feel good that all our cool joints buy from MD farms when they can? It sure does.
The personal connection. I love seeing old friends in the shop. I live in the same neighborhood as our customers, my kids go to the same schools and we eat at the same restaurants. It is personal.
As the holidays approach, on behalf of the Levinsons, the Charm City Run Family and all of Maryland’s local merchants, I want to thank you for shopping local. I also want you to know that we have to earn it. We have to deliver on our promise of superior service and we have to deliver to our community. I can assure you that we take our part of the grand bargain very seriously.
Have a wonderful Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukah, Ramadan, Kwanza (anything else I surely forgot) and a wonderful New Year.
See you in the Shops or at a Race. Live.give.run.
A note from the editor: Small Business Saturday is November 25, 2017! Please save the date and consider including Charm City Run on your list that day.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: JOSH LEVINSON
Josh and his wife Kara founded Charm City Run in 2002. To learn more about their story, please click here.