Monday, August 2, 2021

Community Over Competition

Community Over Competition... This morning, I read an article by Brooke Riley of Re-Fabbed about Community Over Competition. (You can read it here.)

Whew, those words coincided with something that I had made a note about last week and now I have to share my thoughts here. (I may ramble and not write so eloquently as Brooke's article, but I feel compelled to write). You see, in July, I set a goal for my boutique space inside P20 Land & Cattle Interiors and More. 

Our space in Gilmer has been continually growing, with a little dip happening in June. I never set a specific dollar goal, I just set about to take care of business and everything usually takes care of itself. Well, in July I did set a goal. For several years now, I've heard that the "J months" (January, June, and July) aren't the best for retail/boutique businesses and it started out as a "I'm going to prove them all wrong," although I have no idea who "them" is, but that really wasn't the best mindset to have. 

About 2/3s of the way through the month, I started adding up my numbers and I was close to my goal and then I added again and I had hit it, only to realize I had made a huge error in my addition. Boy, did I feel like a fool. I knew I was close and on track to hit the goal, but at that point, I told De Ann that needed to stop focusing on the numbers and instead focus on taking care of business and it would all work out. We kept creating more tees, introduced some new products, launched our school spirit line,  and doing what we know to do. I stopped with continually adding up the numbers. 

Last night, I received my July total and it exceeded my goal by 42%. The "J month" turned out to be my best ever month in a boutique space, but I know that it didn't happen by myself and this is where all this ties back to community. I couldn't have met and exceeded my goals without our community. 

It takes everyone. 
Our community of followers online that encourage us on. 
Our community of friends and vendors at the store, that gives us the opportunity to do this.
Our Chamber of Commerce that pointed someone to the store, when someone inquired about where to find me. 
Live Gilmer for their efforts to promote our town and the businesses in it. 
The community of fellow business owners that are creating a great atmosphere to shop and drawing attention to our town. 
It takes You, who believe in what all of us are doing and come out to support us all. It is so encouraging to see the new businesses in town and the fact that there is still cars parked on the square late in the evenings. 
I love how the windows reflect our courthouse and the downtown businesses. It doesn't always make for the easiest windows to photograph, but it makes the photographs have more depth, story, and community.

When we combined our communities, we grow. 
I used to think I didn't need a space in my hometown. After all, I do local events in our town and community on a regular basis and I have met plenty of customers in local parking lots or make deliveries. I mean, would people still show up to our events or vice versa would they shop the store, because I do events? That thinking was skewed. You see, when we combined the different communities, we grow. The store introduced us to a new circle that wasn't previously a part of my tribe and in turn, my community was introduced to another place, and get this, it was all within the same city and county. Heck, I can be set up on the square at an event and customers shop both our locations in the same day. While much of my inventory is the same, there are some things that are only at P20 or only with me at events/online. 

I still do the Gilmer Farmers Markets, even though I have the space on the opposite corner of the square. Last year, they told me attendance wasn't as good, when I wasn't there. When some of the other regular vendors are absent, I notice less traffic as well. You see, it takes all of us to working together to create a better community. 

I am so thankful for our community of followers. I do look at the statistics from time to time, but I don't dwell on them much. The one time I posted about getting to a certain number of Instagram followers, I had several unfollows and dropped below that number. After that, I sometimes see when I hit a different level, but I just continue doing what I do and not focus on the numbers and that's the same with meeting my July goal. I had to step away from counting the numbers and remind myself that taking care of people has to be my priority. I am so very thankful for each of you who are a part of our online communities. I know that when I started focusing on my daily inspiring, motivational, or funny post, that's when my Facebook page really started to grow. In turn, creating those post, encourages me too. 

So to my community I say thank you for being there for us. Thank you for believing in us and all the others that are striving to build our communities. 

I started not to write about meeting my goal and I don't want to come across as bragging... Instead, I want to encourage you to find your communities (yes, it most certainly takes more than one) that build each other up and focus on doing good work. I have several podcast and business related pages I follow, to gain insights and motivation as well. De Ann at P20 is awesome about building up others - She's the type that shares about other boutiques and events on the P20 facebook page and she even shares when I have other events in town. I nearly said no last fall, when she invited me to join their store, but then I knew it was a place I needed to be and things would work out (the other store I was a part of closed this spring). Along the way, many of you have said you are inspired by me - I hope this inspires you too. Success does not come over night, but when we continually strive to take care of others and lift up our communities.