The older I get, the more it feels important to support small businesses, businesses owned and run by families, businesses with morals and hopes and dreams and true passion for what they do.
My first job lasted 7 years at a small business that felt like family. When that family was forced to sell and a less passionate family moved in, I left. The magic of a small business was gone. It was no longer about the customers. It was about numbers. No one loved their job anymore. Employees weren't appreciated.
My next job has lasted nearly 3 years now. Family run for 37 years. The owner wouldn't dream of any other job and she's passionate about every part. I've never questioned my worth as an employee. I've never questioned my spot on the team.
I recently found a new source for craft vinyl, but did a little research before I sent in an order. This owner was known for being an asshole. He was proud of it, even. He didn't care for his customers and made up for it in cheap prices, but with a "what you see is what you get" attitude. These were not customers for life. These weren't customers who wanted to support YOU and your business. They just wanted you for your low prices.
I'll never understand why these customers went there in the first place. Once I read these reviews and saw that an overwhelming majority were truly negative--and had reason to be--I closed the browser tab and never looked back.
It's worth paying a little extra for good service, I think. I want the full experience. I want to feel like I'm making a difference and I want those employees to feel like they're making a difference, too.
My favorite coffee shop is the one with baristas who feel like friends. My favorite shops to buy from on Etsy are the ones who include a little handwritten note in every order. My favorite places to go in my hometown are those that remember me, that valued me as a customer and as a human being. Those will always be the places that matter.