Ready to Go Again...
Wow, another blog you say!? lol Maybe I'll shoot for once a month.
I have not been present for about a year, off and on, where my website is concerned. I have always felt strongly about my passion after my friend Judy opened my eyes to so many cool "diamonds in the rough" when we moved to East River. (Editors note: for those of you who don't know, South Dakota is basically divided by the Missouri River and we consider ourselves either East or West River and yes we are very different from each other.) In the Black Hills where I grew up, tourism and state dollars promote most small and large businesses. When I moved to East River I realized that it was sink of swim for many small local businesses. Entrepreneurs and small business owners are pretty much left up to their own devices to get the word out about their business and passion. It really did kill me that small business owners were pretty much left on their own to market--who was going to help them get the word out about their passion, especially in obscure locations?
In 2015 is when it hit me. I had to do something to help, and let others know about these businesses. I'm not sure where my passion came from; but it is felt deeply and very real for me. Because I was an entrepreneur from a very young age, I'm guessing it caused this passion of mine to grow and be all that much more present in me. Following that came my loyalty.
Have you thought of what it is to be loyal? As a society, are we loyal to much or of anything? To be loyal as you know means to have an allegiance or a strong feeling of support. As a loyal person you are faithful and devoted to someone or something. You're like a trusty dog and always being true to it.
My tag line is appropriate as I am "fiercely loyal to driving the passion to go local."
Here are 8 keys to being loyal in a relationship.
1) Be Authentic to Yourself and What You're Loyal About
2) Never Hide it; keep letting people know
3) Keep promises and keep building your passion
4) Don't judge: your community, the people in it, trying to leave judgement out of it.
5) Don't be afraid to stand up and share with others.
6) Be committed 100% to continue to work on the loyalty and passion for what you've chosen.
7) Let the desire to grow within to want to see growth and success. You've chosen to invest, now be
determined to do all that you can.
8) Once you've chosen your passion that you're loyal too, be it's loudest cheerleader and staunchest advocate.
So, how do we get others, our communities and the people within to become more loyal to their community? Surely they chose their respective communities to live in for some reason: small population, neighborhood friendly, low crime, less traffic or add your own to the list. We need to transfer that loyalty. But how? And how do we pass it on to our younger generations? I'd like to think teachers and curriculum could add a bit to help teach students the importance of supporting where they live; I believe it would teach loyalty. OR, perhaps the community's Economic Development directors and boards need to go into the classroom. None of this is going to happen by itself.
As I've said before, I have made the decision to no longer charge a fee to be a part of Travel Backroads; unless you're a Chamber of Commerce and or "cluster" of communities wanting to become a destination on TB. There is a great deal involved in what I do from videos to gathering information. It was my original idea when I started. So I'm pretty excited to get back to promoting these gems. Do get a hold of me if you're a Chamber or a cluster of communities---individuals are moving to our state and moving rural, help them also choose your community to relocate to. Be sure too to stop by my Facebook page and like the businesses I share (their videos are on YouTube).
This is my first blog in a long time; looks to be over a year. (oh my) I have written about small business and a couple different topics on Facebook, but not here. I am so passionate about small business and the entrepreneur. Our country was founded on entrepreneurs. They're tough, resilient, fearless, and jump in where others fear to tread.
Having lived in small towns most of my adult life, it's added to this passion of mine. I hope and pray that small rural communities will always be with us; many times they are swallowed up by the growth of the larger metropolitan areas who are near them. It's great for those communities in that situation, perhaps. HOWEVER, what about the small town and businesses away from the crowds?
Thoughts of those small businesses is what got Travel Backroads started.
I started Travel Backroads because I wanted to help those small businesses. I started it because I witnessed MANY small communities with amazing retail businesses. I truly mean amazing. I saw downtown Chamberlain, off the beaten path, Fabulous Finds. Deb and her husband find some amazing pieces of furniture and other unique items and they repurpose them and have turn their passion in to their business. Or there is Ashley Connor who started up The Gift in Ivanhoe, MN and later relocated to Canby, MN. What an amazing store she has created of gifts, clothing and more. Or there is Margit and Sharon who started Florals and Finds in Clear Lake, SD and then later their boutique. From gifts and florals to an awesome line of clothing for all sizes is a must see. House of Scandinavia outside Rapid City, SD has been a favorite of mine since I was a younger girl. I could go on and on about so many more unique businesses I've discovered; those diamonds in the rough. I wanted my business to be about promoting all those small local businesses and to find a way to help me be reimbursed for my time promoting them. It didn't quite work out the way I had planned.
I'm reassessing what my plan really is. My LOVE is to find those businesses and promote them. I believe I'm going to go back to my old way of doing it where people point out and share what businesses are in their town that people must know about; businesses off the beaten path that work hard to pull in traffic and visitors coming through their door. I just want to share these businesses and keep on promoting them. So this begins another journey for Travel Backroads.
If you have businesses you want others to know about...
If you have a diamond in the rough and would appreciate additional promoting...
If you follow Travel Backroads and get something out of it...
Let me know.
Come Spring I hope to find businesses (yours or someone else's) you've shared and get their information on my website here and on social media. I'll continue to promote those that supported me and will not stop with that. They are listed on the opening Home page of the website as "Destinations"; they believed in my mission as customers of mine, and I'll continue to show them how I believe in their biz or community.
It's a new year and change is good. I hope to discover some more awesome businesses out there off the beaten path. Remember if you know of some you want to share, email me at email@example.com. Have a terrific New Year...may it be everything good and one that helps you prosper in so many ways.
The International Vinegar Museum
Did you even know South Dakota even had a vinegar museum?
I personally did not, until I had the opportunity to visit it.
Did you know it was located in Roslyn, SD?
I love surprises!
Recently on a webinar I attended, Lawrence Digg, the Vinegar Man was speaker. It was great to hear him because it was not too long ago I had put together a video (below & on Facebook), I had put together on my first time visit. I still am amazed when our world, within rural, opens up and we see new and different elements that we never knew before.
Lawrence Digg came from San Francisco and relocated to Roslyn. In a nutshell, he was inquiring and learning more about vinegar when he happened across the community and museum. One thing led to another and Lawrence now calls Roslyn home. It's a great story. I'm sure there are many like it out there.
I happened to find it thanks to an Economic Development group of Directors at a conference in Webster, SD. We were offered a tour of the area including Roslyn. On their main street sat this amazing little historical brick building that housed the museum. The video I'm including here was from that visit. Those on this tour, otherwise known as Vinegar Lovers, flocked to the tasting table. They have volunteers available to be your guide around the various tastes, types and history of the vinegar. Lawrence Digg, has been called the Vinegar Man and wants to make Roslyn the Vinegar Capitol of the World. I would say he's certainly on the right track as more and more learn about it.
Check out the video to hear more on the tasting and the information shared. Enjoy, then grab your car keys and take a weekend trip to Roslyn. Set up an appointment first however as it's by appointment now during Covid-19.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we will be open by appointment only. To schedule a visit, please call (605) 486-0075 or (605) 377-3184 or (605) 216-2814. We will make your visit safe and enjoyable! You can also shop our online store anytime.
The International Vinegar Museum is the world's first and only museum dedicated to the wonder that is vinegar. Learn how vinegar is made, who makes it and 101 uses for vinegar. Oh and do not forget PLEASE, to let them know when you get there that you saw it on Travel Backroads! Thank you!
It's In All Our Hands
Happy Mid-Summer All. I have to admit that I've gotten caught up in the politics of life right now. I cannot say I paid a lot of attention until about 8 years ago. So with it being an election year, very little traveling this summer, my attention has been all over the place.
A great deal of the recent politics of Minneapolis and the surround states is setting the tone or pace for South Dakota. I believe with the Governor of Minnesota, even a few years ago we've had interested people \ businesses wanting to leave that state and looking at South Dakota. My community has had inquiries about moving across the border. I was not aware then why so. But through the past couple months, I'm starting to get a better picture. I am not stating this on my page anything to do really with debating or my view versus your view.
What I am sharing here is a very well done video by South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem. The site is GOED's (Governor's Office of Economic Development) website. The site and the Governor's message is quite clear and addresses what is going on today around the world and South Dakota's position on Covid-19 and how we are addressing it. The biggest message Governor Noem shares is about our state welcoming businesses that want to come here to build their business, live and do business. She addresses it and invites others to take a look at what we have and how we do business.
The reason I'm sharing this here is it pertains to our communities -- rural or otherwise. I have shared asking the question are we going after the business? Are we ready? Are our 'powers that be' have a plan and understand how we can benefit? Do your County Commissioners or municipalities have strategic plans or ways to capitalize? Many times our small communities are not in the running for some businesses, but other times they are.
I've shared so many times that I'm sounding like a broken record, but we need to be PRO-ACTIVE. Many communities are, they have economic development boards, they have paid full or part-time directors and programs. It's fact that those communities that do not are not faring as well. So KUDOS to those communities that have something in place to help with community and economic development. Also when the city government is focused on improvements, and making changes for the 21st century will our communities begin to grow. Thriving is a huge goal for communities.
What do you love about yours?
What do you hate?
Are you willing to run for city or county positions?
If you care about your community, I would encourage you to think about it.
Economic development use to mean "big business". Part of a community growing or changing involves rethinking that and convincing the "powers that be" that we cannot literally go out and find those "savior" businesses. No big business will save our towns.
The power to control the future is not just up to our towns officials or organizational leaders, but rests with the residents of the community. You know what that means for you. Just maintaining status quo while everything around us is diminishing will not work.
It's in all our hands.
YouTube - Governor Kristi Noem
SD Governor's Office of Economic Development
Buffalo Museum - Harding County SD
Early settlers, cattle & sheep ranchers settled in the northwest corner of South Dakota. History of the museum, artifacts, and the One Room School House is shown in the video. The video is simply a stop gap until you can make the trip on SD Highway 85 through Harding County, to see for yourself. A copy of the skull of a T-Rex that was discovered in Harding County, is named by Stan by it's discoverer Stan Sacrison. If you happen to notice the same last name of my own, Stan is a brother-in-law of mine and has quite a history of finding fossils in the area. If you care to see more about dinosaurs and Stan, the Black Hills Institute is a great place to stop in Hill City, SD. Harding County is an amazing land with natural formations to see and appreciate. Note here two videos one for the Buffalo Museum and one of Black Hills Institute in Hill City, SD.
Please take a minute and walk across the street from the Buffalo Museum to another great display and attraction with interesting written depictions of Tipperary, history of the settlers, and the history of the area. It's called the Great Western Cattle Trail. You'll want to see both when you venture to this corner of SD. It's always a place to stop on your way through to Medora, ND, and the Teddy Roosevelt Historical State Park as well, or make it your destination.
The Pictures Below are in the Video as well.
Today I wrote an article for my local newspaper. In light of all the world events lately from Covid-19 to looting, rioting, and politics being front and center; we still live and work in our own communities. We might not be touched by what those bigger cities are going through in a personal manner, however the issues are pertinent to all of us. Life as we've known it has changed. We are still discovering the new normal; it's evolving and with it will come change and becoming more insightful. I will go out on the limb however and say it's certainly not all one way or the other; we all need personal reflection.
Eastern SD is already seeing some of the changes. People are moving out of the cities and we believe some businesses will follow. Is your community ready for change? Are you open to it? Do we even know how to be or get ready? Sometimes it takes a whole lot of money, leadership, and time to make some of the necessary changes. However, there are some things we all can do:
First, find someone that recently moved into your community for whatever reason. Then ask them:
1) How has their relocating into the community gone?
Were the locals friendly? Welcoming? Have you noticed any bias'? Is there anything as a community that could be improved on?
2) Did the neighbors welcome you? Are we guilty of not practicing "neighboring" anymore? Do we take the time to be a neighbor or know them by name?
3) Has anyone invited you to get involved or invited you to attend/join an organization or church? Or reached out and given you a list of organizations, or resources for them?
4) Do you have a welcome basket that is given to new residents? A few communities I've lived in, our Chamber did it personally. You want to be known as a welcoming community? It starts with you.
On a funny note I cannot help but add "A Do Not DO": please don't stare or stop the conversation when someone new walks into a church, business, or bar that you've never seen before! Turn back if you're not willing to go up and introduce yourself. Many of us have experienced silent stares in person.
I cannot stress it enough to welcome newcomers, or those returning who once grew up in your community. We're all going to benefit in some manner. Now is the time, people.
Let's Step It Up,
Travel Backroads Began 3 years ago in June!!
Where's the Beef?
I'm dating myself when I recall the old commercial "Where's the Beef" when Wendy's Hamburger Chain came out with it in 1983. Where is the beef? Who is in control? I share these videos concerning the passion, the drive, the importance that American cattlemen and pork producers are going through right now during the Covid-19 pandemic. It's too bad that it took a pandemic to raise the question about beef in our country, when it should have been raised long before this.
Loree Gaikowski here share's her passion with me in a Zoom conversation we had during our social distancing segment of our year 2020. She has raised the question more times because she grew up and clearly understands what is happening to the small family farm and it's survival. I, on the other hand, do not necessary have a grasp on it having grown up in the city where the meat I ate was found at a grocery store or a restaurant. Now we cannot even say that when there is a shortage of beef.
Cattle and pork producers are facing perhaps the biggest problems of their existence. From my perspective it seems dire when 2-3 of the largest meat packing plants have shut down leaving thousands of farmers stranded and having to kill off their animals.
During This Pandemic Crisis
During this time of the CoVid-19 we find out a great deal about ourselves. As a community, a nation, as a person, as a society; we discover our patterns, our beliefs, scruples and values. We're also learning in a very different way with the social distancing. Through the news media, I've learned of the ridicule and the lies that people casually throw out or push within their agenda. I'm not talking politically only; this is not a political post. We all have to decide where we stand because we espouse a democracy.
But what we all will, and are experiencing socially is--what will evolve with this pandemic. Businesses are going to close and many will close and not reopen. Just this week through my job, a new business is thinking of starting up! To me, that's the inevitable crocus bursting through that last bit of white, cold snow refusing to go away. So, I can only encourage it. We all know the risks; there should be no reason that we're going into anything with our eyes wide shut. We have what we are suppose to believe usually shoved down our throats 24/7. Some of us prefer to live with our heads in the sand and eyes wide shut, but that is their prerogative too; again a democracy.
There is an opportunity here however; to come out the other side, we can embrace our businesses as many of us ARE staying home. Entrepreneurs, with fortitude and tenacity, still need to be encouraged and welcomed to think of the 'new future'. We won't be in our homes forever. Maybe this is a turning point, and I've shared this before that perhaps more businesses will turn to internet websites. Maybe that's a necessity. Maybe because there will be another pandemic; I know I'm quite certain of it. Hopefully we will be better prepared then, while in the meantime we still keep our store fronts and welcome those Intentional Acts of Community. Now to utilize those Intentional Acts we think of 'community,' in a different form.
Will we get back to a better future? Will that person who wants to start a business, or an older person such as myself, starting after retirement who don't have assets to start a business, get that break. Can banks re-evaluate their 'needs' for a note. Can we use the buildings on our streets where the landlord believes its 'worth a mint' but be willing to just have 'life' within it again? Can we collaborate...
Wow! There's a new concept! Work together? We are seeing it now because countrymen and women are seeing their fellow person's need and are stepping up to the plate.
Like you saw in my video outside Floral & Finds in my home of Clear Lake, people will be wanting to leave their cities now after this. Realtors not only have to sell a house, they need to sell the community.
But a community needs to sell itself. I'm reminded of workshops and conferences that I've attended --are our towns and communities really appealing to others? Would they want to live here? Are we friendly, welcoming, fixing our streets, our stores, our neighborhoods and more? Or do we think it's 'their' job and so it never gets done? The likelihood of people wanting to live more rural or move away from the dense populations are very possible. Reports in Vermont were when people were leaving New York State, they were hostile. But rightly so IF they were not quarantining themselves. But otherwise, we as in 'community', better embrace a possible change with open arms, OR DIE --brainstorming ways to help struggling businesses and communities.
Another area I have been shown is with Loree Gaikowski and Anita Holan; 'going local' is embracing important issues facing the 'Ag community'. One of them is our current meat industry which is slowly trying to burst on the scene with all the political fighting. They cannot quite make the scene due to it being a political election year of warring. The next blog posted is an interview I've done with Loree on these important issues.
There are little ways we can help Ag and small entrepreneurs. Find and support the 'home goods' businesses as well. Katy Kassian of Tate & Kate calls it "'ferreting out' the home goods folk." Have you ever had a country egg? Do you even know how long those 'store-bought eggs' have been circulating before they even make it the stores? There are those that make fresh jams & Jellies. Deuel Area Development has a kitchen incubator in Toronto, SD that offers space to help the entrepreneur begin a business with a home recipe. Have you heard of Day of the Dead Salsa in South Dakota? Or a meat locker where we can support the local beef farmer and still help with taxes going to our communities. The list is endless; veal, chickens, eggs, soap, dairy products, home goods and more. But it takes a deliberate act of consciousness and conscience to do it, let alone think it.
These are my thoughts for now. I'm busy as I social distance. My brain runs amuck. My heart is in the right place. Whether we're rural or city, country or town, we owe it to ourselves, our communities and our neighbors to be the best we can be.
Owner of Travel Backroads
Keeping Going During This Time
I will celebrate 3 years the first of June for Travel Backroads. It's exciting because it was the culmination of a dream that started in 2014. If you follow me, you know what I'm speaking of.
Since my start and a loan to begin my first business, I have put money into a variety of ways to market my clients such as Apple Marketing (Siri and marketing), Ads on social media as well as listing on approximately 6 platforms and last year I joined SD Tourism. I won't be able to do that any more because they have a policy of their membership that about kills a mission like mine. If I'm representing several businesses, and not just myself whose mission ironically is to promote them, it costs an expensive amount for a membership. When I started "Backroads Dakota" there was only a mention on the website of traveling Highway 14 and stopping in several towns along the way, and since that time there has been an explosion of backroad travel and rural. This is great because most of SD and our region is rural so I'm happy that the state is on it.
Giving free advertising to small businesses would be nice if I could manage that, but my time is valuable and what I do to promote businesses is of value. I can talk myself blue in the face about how I am loyal, fiercely so, or how I'll do it non-stop but the buck really stops with the faith and trust from your business and you as an owner, in me. My heart is in this for the long haul, so I'll keep doing what I can for small business. I hope you do however take a chance on me and let me promote yours.
The future is uncertain now for a great deal in our lives. It's interesting too because at the risk of sounding dramatic, what does the future hold? I am not an economist and it worries me for all the local businesses, entrepreneurs, and even our society as we know it as we move into this time of uncertainty with the CoVid-19 Pandemic and that uncertainty grows daily. Where will our businesses be in a month or our lives in 6 months? What we're experiencing now is obviously unprecedented and time will tell. I hope we can explore new ways to support local and ways to assist those in need.
Let's hang in there; help your neighbors, help your businesses, keep the tax dollars flowing best you can, buy gas in your communities, your groceries, eat out or carry out when you can, don't get caught up in all the media of blaming others or our government because this was not done, or that. To me that makes us all bullies--laying blame non-stop. Let's hope; that what we've learned we won't repeat, that we correct the problems, and we support each other. We see a shift in values, families hanging together, working together, and lives changing forever and loved ones dying. We've got to make it for the long haul and of course, we can do what it is going to take.
My thoughts are with you as we move with hope & faith into the future,
A Rousing Discussion on Customer Service
Recently I had a great conversation between friends; even a bit rousing. Customer Service was the topic of the day. This is bits and pieces from it and most definitely not all. Remember to bare with me because I write like I talk! 😉
One point of view that came up between us was basically 'a person should NOT do business with any shop/service in their town if their character is questionable, or the consumer has been snubbed, or ignored as a customer.'
Part of that discussion was what if that owner/manager does not know or understand how they come across to others?
Meaning-- maybe it's their personality but they have no idea they come across cold and indifferent? OR, maybe they do have an idea and don't care or don't think it's related to their ability to do business.
What if the person doesn't understand they come across like they do to others? Maybe they cannot do anything about it and perhaps they should never be with the public, but they are? What do we do to support our small businesses? Ignore it? Point it out to them?
There are many aspects that enter into a retail or service business. It's not cut and dried and many cannot get past the demeanor, character, the treatment and more. But, if we do not, do those businesses stand to close? Can our communities afford our 'non-support'? If you're feeling it about them, chances are you are not alone. Others feel it too. Will that business blame it on everyone else, but not at themselves if they fail? Is there an answer?
As I shared long ago, I was snubbed once at a pharmacy. I went elsewhere. I figured that I had the right to be treated better. I learned later that was just the pharmacist's personality--I was not picked out to be rude to; it was just poor customer skills. Do we help by pointing it out or telling them? (Good luck with that.)
I don't have the answers and not that I have to have them. In the greater scheme of things is this important? Maybe not, but it sure makes good conversation fodder between friends. (And yes, we're still friends and we agreed to pick the discussion up again!)