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Small Town Business
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Once upon a time people did business on a handshake.

In the day and age of e-banking, Paypal and automatic transfers those days seem a lifetime ago. I recently spent some time with MaryAnne Heath, owner of Moss Rose Bakery in Oakdale for a story I am working on for the upcoming ‘Women in Business’ publication.

During our conversation she shared a number of things in the way of how business has changed, the challenges small businesses now face, as well as her connection and love for this community.

Ironically, just days before sitting down with MaryAnne a friend texted me a photo of MaryAnne stacking and loading large boxes of baked goods for donation to Oakdale Community Sharing.

“She is not appreciated enough for what she does in our community,” the friend shared, among other things.

As a customer and community member, I naturally agreed. Moss Rose holds a special place in my heart, as well as my children’s and my family’s. MaryAnne isn’t the type to turn down an organization or service club in a time of need.

The day after my time with her I was greeted by a flat tire as I left work. By flat, I mean as a pancake, not good. A call to AAA was made first. Yes, I don’t know how to change a tire and yes, I intend to now learn.

My second call was to Alex at A&M Tires and Wheels. He’s had to patch my tires a few times (thank you new development) and we knew the time was coming. I had hoped to make it until fall; new tires never happen at a ‘good’ time.

Immediately, Alex had three separate quotes for me and one apology. One set he would not be able to put on my car until the next day. I was speaking with him at 3:30 in the afternoon, so naturally I did not expect immediate service. Silly me.

Upon reviewing the options Alex presented with my guy, who’s savvy on the language (aka details) I had been given, the best decision was made.

One more phone call to A&M, an appointment made for the next morning and within 25 minutes of arrival the next day, I was paying the bill and heading back to the office with two new tires.

Here’s what I love about this transaction and ‘doing business’ with Alex. Simply put; his demeanor. My guess is the people who know about this special treasure on the north end of Oakdale, know exactly what this means.

From the moment I made the initial stressed out phone call, to the swiping of my debit card, for Alex this was all no big deal. I did not get an earful about his full schedule. I was not made to feel as if he was doing me some sort of favor by getting my car in the next morning. There was no talk of ‘squeezing me in’ or ‘let me see what I can do.’ It was all extremely simple. An attitude of, you have a problem? Great! It’s my job to fix it, so bring her in.

Last week, I shared my thoughts on this unique forum and opportunity we have as employees of the ‘local’ newspaper. I feel doubly fortunate to be a staffer that not only works in this town, but calls it home. As a community member, I want to continue to see small business like Moss Rose and A&M stay around for years to come. Watching longtime small businesses close is hard, even for the ‘non-native.’

As a town, we continue to grow. Big business continues to occupy our streets and truthfully, there is room for everyone. My hope, however, is that in the day and age of ‘is there a coupon code’ or Groupon offer, we don’t automatically turn our dollar to big business. Small business may have just as good an offer, be able to match a coupon or give you such treatment it’s worth a little extra.

While I did not have a coupon, in the case of A&M there was no need in the words of my guy (aka car consultant) he gave me a ‘great deal. Truly took care of’ me.

So here’s my plea: I know and understand there are certain businesses we all wish were in town and at our disposal (Bullseye Boutique immediately comes to mind). Rather than use your voice to share what your town is missing, what if you shared your personal ‘wins’ in the way of local business and business professionals.

There truly is no other place on the map like ours; we’re on this island together. Let’s try and remember to lift one another up, whenever possible.