There is a New Way of Thinking
There is a new generation of business owners on the rise leading the charge. There are no so-called “clubs” to belong to in community or online. Thought-patterns are shifting as we progress into the future. New entrepreneurs are working together to collaborate. It is a new way to think about business and creating value in the market and in our economies from what use to be.
Why can’t a store with shoppers mention when leaving their store, “Have you tried the ice cream store down the street? Or “there is another boutique around the block.” OR go so far as to say “have you had your meal yet, there are two businesses in town you can eat at.” Help promote each other and KEEP the consumer's business in town. What a deal!
When businesses team up, communicate and promote together, the likelihood of pulling traffic off the highway or shoppers taking side trips, grows because of collaboration and more places to shop and eat at.
So now when Holiday Open Houses' are happening or special events -- work together and work as a team. Then get your heads together for the next season or month. It brings success for all involved!
I remember the first time in Boston when I traveled my first roundabout. It was so foreign and new to me and clever. I loved the difference there to what I'd grown up with in South Dakota. Roundabouts, I believe, are to prevent major accidents from happening at intersections, but they're also designed to keep traffic moving and at a normal pace. The flow is not interrupted and they're suppose to save time. Now they're showing up in South Dakota, and the midwest. We are getting with it! ;)
I never gave it any thought about naming my blog. I thought "roundabout" fell right into sync with Travel Backroads. I originally named my pricing list "Find your Avenue". I like idioms. I've chosen "Loose Gravel" I feel that name might suit me better, if you knew me.
Traveling any road for local is important to me. It just so happens when you live in our part of the world (the great plains) there are a great many businesses tucked away on country roads, secondary highways and totally off a beaten path. I remember as a youth growing up in Rapid City, my mother wanted to stop at many businesses she'd see on the highways and my dad would speed by. From that so called "intersection" between the two of them, came some discord, ha! I realize however that businesses are not just on those highways and byways but down city streets and alleys as well.
Business owners, are travelers stopping at your place, or do you rely mostly on local to support you?
If you do, I believe you're missing the mark. Your local community cannot be that "knight in shining armor" all the time. Many times they are maxed out in various ways including supporting local stores. Those motorists need to stop by your place (spread the delight!) and you need to let them know you are there. That has to rank up there as a number one priority. Not on a roundabout and not getting off however.
So how do you do that? In a way, you want to be like a roundabout. You want the traffic to keep moving, at a good pace, you want to prevent collisions but you also need them to take the 2nd or 3rd exit. You need them to stop eventually however and that is key to your business success. My tag line is "Driving the Passion to Go Local" but it also is we need that passion to drive traffic through our business' doors daily, whether you're city council, Ec Dev Corp or a Chamber of Commerce.
If you live rural, I wonder if you realize how foreign 'rural' is to a city person? They like the I-90's and I-29's. Like all of us, we like the familiar, and the idea of rural living might be very foreign. Many times it's even difficult for them to stop at a business they've admired from a distance.
Are you and your business everything you can be to your customers and potential customers? Recently a friend and colleague of mine, Paula from Dakota Resources, shared this great short 3 minute presentation from Jason Salamun on Rapid City's City Council. In her words, "he hits the nail on the head". Take a look here and listen by clicking on this link #OUTLIVEYOURLIFE. It's inspiring and a great reminder to all of us. You do not have to live rural to get the most from your community. It can be anywhere you live, and as Mr. Salamun says "a city is only as good as it's citizens".
While you're at it, check out Dakota Resources' President Joe Bartman's slides from his RuralX presentation this summer. Especially if you're are rural and not familiar with Dakota Resources, you can be a #RURALSHAPERS. It is a new rural.
Whether you live rural or in a city...whether you own a business or shop at them...whether you travel or not...I hope you're a believer.
Joan of "Loose Gravel"
When I was a teenager, with a size 9 shoe and trying to find that shoe size long before internet and mail order, it was difficult to locate. I grew up in Rapid City, so you would not think it would have been difficult in the 60's, but it was. "Sweetbriars" was the name of the local store and there was definitely not the selection that a teenager would see today. Seems funny today when you think about it.
We all have our pet peeves or in this case a cause, and this one might seem trite to some. Seeking "plus size" fashions is near and dear to my heart and has been a longtime quest of mine to locate them outside of a 'department store', and those that actually fit to size. When I was in high school it should not have been that difficult because of my size at the time, then add height and it was a recipe for trouble; it was difficult, and frustrating and remains that way today. However, it is considerably easier these days with stores like Lane Bryant, CJ Banks, Catharines, Avenue, Torrid and others. This brings me to why I'm blogging about this topic today.
Boutiques are bursting on the scene. Maybe they have always been there; they are just identified as 'boutiques' these days. In my opinion, and maybe I'm misguided, but most of them have skinny fashions and fit those who really seem to have what society deems...the "perfect" or "preferred" body size. Finding boutiques that feature all sizes is going to be a quest of mine, especially "plus sizes." I want to know about them and share with you about my service.
It's not easy for a boutique owner, or small business to provide for all the sizes there are in this world, and not just sizes, but individual tastes as well. How does a small business begin to target everyone, AND afford it?
Not that my opinion matters but I guarantee you "plus size fashions" is a market you do not want to leave behind. I think there has always been a need for it, but it's a Hollywood thing..."plus size" doesn't meet up with the cute, twiggy type influence, plain and simple. Don't leave us behind. We are a cash-credit-debit-card-carrying market that you do not want to over look. Those shops or boutiques that do leave us behind will miss out. If you know or own a business with "plus size" fashions, please let the world know and that begins with Travel Backroads. Check out my website under Directory by Category and let's get your small business listed so others can find you and your "plus sizes!"
Looking forward to doing business with you,
It takes a great deal of awareness to think of who exactly are "entrepreneurs." Sometimes we think of retail friends selling their style or fashion of clothing in a store front. It might even be a website strictly online, or out of their home. I remember when I first heard the word "Fax" back in the 90's; I had no idea what that was. I felt similar when I heard the word Entrepreneur 8 years ago! It seemed like a big word with certain connotations in my mind, and my thought was "a person as a big CEO" or "or they're in a metropolitan area".
It's become familiar now as I coach entrepreneurs with dreams. It's taken a shift in my thinking. All those vendors who sell at Farmer's Markets are entrepreneurs too. I am thrilled to add Melissa and Darin of Waldner Farms on my directory. See their listing "here"! They put the capital "E" in entrepreneur and I'm happy to promote their produce and their POPCORN!!! It's great and they work hard. If you're in the Webster Area, passing through, or you fish and camp in Waubay, stop in at their Farm, their Farmer's Market on Tuesday and Saturdays. You can also go to their website... .
I do feel positivity mounting. Do YOU? Is your community feeling it?
I mentioned last time about synergy and "feeling" it. I cannot put my finger on it; I do feel that there is something different in the air than I felt 4-5 years ago.
Is it the result of Dakota Resources, SDSU Extension Energize, Grow South Dakota and many others that are helping small, rural communities?
When I was asked to apply for the first position of Community Coordinator for Philip, SD, I was not sure what I was getting myself into or what the job entailed. I would quickly find out--the sky was the limit. I was hired by Philip's Chamber of Commerce. This to me spoke volumes and STILL speaks volumes when I think back to a community that had the capability of having such a vision to hire a staff person for community development and in the process help with economic development. To me, economic and community development are linked together; you cannot have one without the other in rural.
When I started my position in Philip, grants seemed out of reach. It seemed, unlike today, they were not in place to support rural communities very readily. George Mickelson, Governor at the time, had just encouraged thinking outside the box and building community centers in communities, but he also focused on 'cottage industries'. Today they are called "start-ups" and the word "entrepreneur" is used. I believe he was a triggering device that eventually lead to Governor Daugaard's successful policy on Economic Development and where it is today with GOED and leadership that keeps SD in the forefront for business, leadership, development. Along with all that, we are encouraging others to return to SD, or simple give SD a try for living and working and to discover for themselves we are a great state in which to do business, and more.
The insurgence I'm sensing, I believe is real. I see my professional colleagues developing agri-tourism, downtown revitalization, festivals, mural art, entrepreneurial incubators, and much more to keep their communities growing. People seem fired up. Just recently at a RuralX Summit Conference, a colleague Tammy Caffee from Hand County ED Corp saw an idea while on vacation, and brought the idea to a breakout session attended registrants. Sharing the idea planted the seed and the brainstorming was off and running.
There are doers and there are those that sit back and watch and do nothing. There are naysayers and then there are yeasayers. We have resources right under our noses to tap into. We have returnees and newcomers in our communities that have experienced life elsewhere. We have locals that are willing to work and do. There are positive people that "show up" at community events. We need to tap into this synergy and move within our communities. Don't be caught watching from the sidelines, help build the future for your community. ...and start today!
It's time people,
I've learned a great deal in this past year. I've also raced through a variety of moods and thoughts about my mission. I'm proud to say my Travel Backroads website has been rock'in it for a year now. So, Happy Birthday to my website!!
So a couple things I have learned...
I've learned that I'm NOT much of a sales person. I believe my business should succeed on it's own merit. In other words, look at it, see the price and what I'm offering you. It's a NO BRAINER!! :D I know there is a likelihood it could fail because I am not a salesperson. I like the fact that my videos (social media and youtube) can talk for themselves. I'm loving the word of mouth system too!
I've learned that although you think people are loyal, they are not always. Disappointingly, I'm able to put a name to it and recognize it in people I trusted. I therefore have to move in a new direction and decide then how I feel about trust with others. I want the people I serve with my website, and the businesses I promote "locally", to trust me, and let it be obvious.
I've learned that businesses are working every minute of the day to stay alive. In just this past year, two businesses that I am aware of and had contact with, closed their doors. I actually am sad when that happens because it might mean another empty building on a rural community's main street. It could mean that person worked endlessly only to have their hopes and dreams dashed. Hopefully they find their next niche'.
I've also learned that some businesses do not know how to play well with others. In other words, "collaboration". Some owners are in biz strictly for themselves and not for others. This day and age businesses that are succeeding are working together and bringing customers to their little world because of that.
I've learned in the 8 years I've been an economic development director, there is a 'new rural' that seems to be emerging on the scene. There is something different in the air now. The synergy level seems off the charts in my small regional realm. "Newcomers" and "Returnees" are also leading a charge. New ideas are breaking out and the sky is the limit; work with those that feel the same way.
In closing, I've also learned that I'm grateful for those that comment to me that they appreciate what I stand for and what I bring to "local". The feedback has been amazing and I'm appreciative that you notice it. You've noticed the fact that this...
Is NOT a JOB TO ME- but something more.
--oh YAH--It is my PASSION! And learning, in all its forms, is great!
Happy July and find your piece of synergy for local,
Joan, back from a 'blogging hiatus'
Owner of Travel Backroads
If you or you get someone else to sign-up for my emails, I will give them 20% off a new basic listing price for their business or a business of their choosing.
What Brings You Joy...
Certain things bring me joy: my grandsons, house plants, growing Iris because my mom was a master at them, or instrumental sound tracks from films like Out of Africaor Rudy. Listening to some music moves me deeply.
Helping promote "local business" brings me joy. I cannot describe the passion I feel, nor the desire I have to help and do what I can to help them succeed. I often wonder where this passion comes from. I knew when I started Travel Backroads that I had found that passion.
I was told "You care a lot more about this than I do...
I was told last year when I was discussing the future of my directory "You are right, that you care a lot more about this particular project than I do." I'm grateful that somewhere deep down inside, I genuinely desire to see "businesses" succeed. I welcome the challenge to help drive traffic through their doors regardless of where they are.
This past week I was excited to attend a South Dakota State University Extension Conference called "Energize!" AND, it did just that! It was for small town businesses, chamber of commerces, economic development directors, and individuals that want to work to inspire and energizetheir community.
Red Ants Pants....
Have you ever heard of Sarah Calhounand Red Ants Pants? I had once, maybe about the time Sarah was beginning, from my God-daughter Bethany starting to tell Sarah's story. I remember thinking "that's terrific, how cool is that." This week I met Sarah in person and heard her amazing story at the conference. She's a young entrepreneur that had an idea and ran with it; a work pant for women who have curves. Not women trying to fit into men's pants. She grew up in Connecticut but transplanted herself to White Sulfur Springs, Montana. To sell her pants, she has taken it on the road in her Silver Airstream, made her own commercials, to creating a Red Ants Pants Music Festival where thousands attend and from the funds made, started her foundation. Next she's kicking off a leadership program for women and she has more dreams lined up. Sarah is a success already regardless of how many pants she's sold or not. She had a dream and went after it with hard work and dedication. She's an amazing example of entrepreneurship and a woman; one that inspired me instantly. She started in her 20's; I'm starting in my 60's.
When I grow up, I want to be just like her.
Enthusiasm, tenacity, dedication and passion are four characteristics one has to have in business. One cannot talk about it forever; just begin. Sarah started with her idea, the book Small Business for Dummies and her story began...
I feel the joy I started this blog about--having met Sarah, learning her story and knowing she's a BFF to my God-daughter Bethany... what a great combo.
And I love telling others' stories...
Seeing this article, I’ve been saying this forever and felt at times I’m talking to a brick wall. I even talk to our school children in classrooms when given the chance too. Travel Backroads online directory is just one way I have put actions to my words. I’ve made listing in my Directory so affordable and still I don’t think people “understand.” It’s about seeing the “big” picture here.
Part of the reason I started Travel Backroads is for this very reason. I have blogged about it on my website, I’ve even written articles on it for my job as an economic development director. It’s not just the backroads nor is my Directory just for the backroads. It’s for all those local businesses, stores, specialty foods, and more.
But hit a store like Herbergers and everyone feels it. Now the fight has become even bigger and we’re staring a giant in the face. Now it’s a race to save some of these stores that took business away from our small towns to begin with. We’re going to lose some favorite stores because were buying online, taxes aren’t being paid, dollars are going away. (hoping this changes with our state government to tax us when buying more online.)
Now I begin to wonder is what we’re doing FUTILE?? My starting a directory to help small communities on the highway‘s and byways or downtown cities because theyre independently small businesses, is it a waste of time?
I think I can picture what those early businesses in the 1900’s felt when our country was getting established. How they must have felt when the larger community took their business away and they had to close up shop.
What does the future hold? What do you envision? Use our stores just for items we run out of? We’re fighting to keep a certain lifestyle from being eradicated. What does the future hold for all sizes of communities? It’s coming folks, it’s here and it’s changing.
Have you thought about your role in this?
By Katy Kassian
Long before co-promotion became a buzzword, we were doing it. Most of us were. It is a means of staying relevant and sustainable in even the worst of times and in the most remote of locations. Did I mention FREE??? Or nearly Free??
Twenty plus years ago we purchased a restaurant sight-unseen-on-a-handshake at a football game. Yes- that is a true story.
Most of you know that drumming up business in a very small town, off the beaten path, takes creativity and tenacity. We began co-promoting right away. Our reasons were many; to make more money, to raise awareness, to make advertising more affordable, to get people off the interstate, and on to our little highway and to utilize all the assets our bitty town had. Remember- this is before the advent of social media.
We co-pro’d with our neighbors at the little hotel. They had their brochures at our cafe, and we had menus in every room. We constantly advertised together and did many creative promotions- targeting everyone from travelers to truckers.
We co-pro’d with neighboring towns. Our nearest towns had bitty populations- 29, 300 and 175. That is only 600 combined (including our town) in a hundred mile stretch. Each of these towns cafes, (and not much else) and we all had kids- so we began a summer of “cafe racing” We rotated going to each town and having go cart races in front of each cafe.
We co-pro’d with the bitty video store. Dinner and a (rental) Movie promotions. We let customers drop their movies off with us if they were in town early.
Our version of Redneck Revenue was a little unorthodox, but it did was it was intended to do. It also highlighted what cooperation and collaboration can do.
Fast forward 20+ years. We are now in North Dakota. Again- miles from anywhere. We have co-pro’d with MoJo Roast Coffees, Inner Flair Fashions and others- All of them over 100 hundred miles from me. Even in other states. Thanks to the internet and UPS, anything is possible these days! One of my favorite projects was working with MoJo Roast to design and brand custom gift bags for “Dakota Fred” Hurt of Gold Rush fame (on Discovery channel)
What can I say?
Need more inspiration? How about a limo service pairing with a retirement home to offer discounted rides to shopping and appointments? It is a way to stay busy during slow times, and a limo ride would be fun!
How about a local farmer/gardener pairing with a spa- they could sell fresh fruits and veggies to the spa to make into smoothies for their customers.
A B&B or lodge co-promoting with a florist. The florist could provide a weekly centerpiece in exchange for the B&B recommending the florist for weddings, anniversaries, birthdays etc.
A bank and a coffee shop- The bank could offer a ‘free’ coffee card to to the coffee shop to new customers and the coffee shop could in turn promote the offer.
A local contractor could co-promote with the wedding planner to offer discounted services to newlyweds on their fixer-upper.
So~How many things can you think of?? Get creative. Think outside the box. Work together.
Everybody wins when you work together.
Katy "Kate" Kassian is a rural and small town consultant with Tait and Kate Consulting. She and her partner Annette are passionate about helping small towns and local businesses thrive. Drawing on a combined 50+ years of experience, Tait and Kate showcase "whole town" salesmanship and customer service, hidden assets, co-promotions and more. Katy and her family farm is in central North Dakota and is also the owner of Buffalo Gals Mercantile.