Do you know the name of your barber?
Published 9:24 pm Wednesday, August 11, 2004
If you don't require the services of a barber, do you know your pharmacist? What about your doctor, postmaster, jeweler, realtor or even funeral home director? Do you know the person who bags your groceries, fills your car with gas or delivers your newspaper? Sure you do, if not all of them, at least a couple. Some of the people who fill these roles are people we have known possibly for years and might even be your next door neighbor.
Last Wednesday, I traveled to Selma with someone affiliated with our newspaper for a meeting to discuss ideas that would enable us to provide a better community newspaper to you, our readers. After a day of meeting with people talking about editorial content and advertising, it was time to make our journey back home; and a journey it was.
Not 10 minutes away from the Selma Times Journal office, I turned to the driver and said, "Do we have a flat tire?" The answer was yes. Luckily, just ahead of us were two gas stations to the right. The first station we rode through seemed to not believe that people might once in awhile be in need of air, so it was off to the next station. At this station we did find an air machine, but then realized we did not have a tire left to air up.
So, the only thing left to do was to put on the spare. After about 10 minutes we had jacked the car up, taken the tire off, put the spare one on and were ready to run. If you've ever driven to Selma, you know that it takes about two and half hours, however, that time was about to greatly increase if we drove all the way back home on the spare. Fortunately the person I was with knew where we could get a replacement tire and have it mounted on the car.
Customer service was not a high priority while at this particular business, which I won't name, but only say that it starts with Wal and ends in mart. After being sent inside and then back out, only to once more go inside, we were finally put on the waiting list. Two and half hours after we originally started out on our journey, and after many kind words about our friends in the tire business back home, we began again.
What does this have to do with the first paragraph of my column? At neither of the stores, whether at the retail giant or a service station, did I find anyone that I knew, and I would venture to say they in turn did not know me either.
This would be the difference when shopping here in town and going out of town to shop. At each store I frequent here in Atmore, I can almost always expect to find a smile and friendly hello. Unfortunately, from the two businesses I mentioned above, I didn't receive either.
There is definitely something to be said about the value of shopping locally. Another example is just the other day I was in need of a certain device to help me accomplish a specific task. The place of businesses that I went to did not have exactly what I was looking for, but did help me in ordering what I needed. Also, to get me by until my order came in, the business let me borrow another item that would work in a pinch. I bet nowhere a couple miles north or south of us would be willing to do that.
I guess what I am saying is please make sure to visit and purchase from our local businesses. Keep in mind that without our support they cannot support us or themselves.
Chuck Bodiford is an Atmore native and publisher of the Advance. He may be reached by calling 368-2123 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org