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Locally Owned Versus Corporate Owned By Mark Lampkin CEO, Mark Lampkin Media

A generation is considered to be separated by a span of 20 years. Thus, a grandparent born in 1955 could have a child in 1975, and a grandchild born in 1995…a span of 40 years. Three generations.

I use this as a foundation upon which to build the framework that we are now in the midst of a third generation…the child born in 2015, who will never know a number of things that us “old timers” knew growing up.

There was time when you bought meat for your family from a butcher. You selected it; they cut it, wrapped it in “butcher paper,” wrote the price with a black marker, and bid you a good day, all with a smile and gratitude. Building lease payment secured.

There was a time when you knew who owned the local grocery store(s). Yes, there used to be more than one place where you could purchase food items. Your Mother sent you to the corner store with a short list of items. There was a time when people who worked at the local gas station lived in the community and could give directions to people who were lost. Before GPS. Don’t even think about trying that today. Blank stare.

Today, we have none of the above. You buy food items from a big box grocery store that has no real connections to the community. Or even worse, some buy food from an online app that is delivered to their home by a complete stranger. There was a time when you didn’t have that embarrassing moment of needing to put back items because you did not have enough money. The owner knew you and extended some credit. You paid them back…and the relationship, and loyalty, was solidified.

Try doing that at your local Safeway or Kroger…and tell me how it flies. Right. The checkout person, who is likely to not even look at you, or worse, if you have decided to use the self-check area, will not care, nor have the authority to give you a break. Nope. They just look at you and wait as you decide…impersonal. Next.

You see, the corporate-owned stores have shareholders, whose only care is about the dividends from the profitable operations of that business. They will not be concerned with your recent job loss/layoff, major car repair or medical emergency. For them, it is only about “the bottom line.” How much did we make last quarter? Disconnected.

I share this with you as we are now in the holiday season. Many of us are looking to buy gifts for loved ones. We will be preparing meals to enjoy with family and friends. My hope is that we will make an effort to spend much of those dollars with a locally owned business. They are the true glue to our communities. They, unlike the big stores, will be willing to donate to the local sports teams, help families when natural disasters strike, and understand, and CARE, about who we are. It really is about relationships. Sold.

The foundation of many of our communities is directly tied to the strength, and stability, of the men and women who take the risk to own and operate businesses. Many have to work long hours and take few vacations. But for them, it is a labor of love and a commitment to providing those products/services that we need. The fact that may need to charge a bit more for the same product you can buy at Home Depot should not deter you from that transaction. I prefer the person at Ace Hardware showing me the different products, and explaining how to install, versus the Lowe’s employee looking at me with an “I’m not sure” expression. Not my department.

Find a local Chamber of Commerce directory and learn of the businesses in your community. You might be surprised how many are independently owned. Take it from me; they will be more appreciative of your business than that corporate entity.