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Shop Local: It’s Smart Economics

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Today I’m loving this idea from the American Independent Business Alliance. An impactful way to illustrate how shopping local supports your community.  Their study is hard-fast and convincing. The upshot: spending at your local Small Biz isn’t just feel-good, it’s smart economics.  For every $100 you spend at a local business, $45 stays in your neighborhood….vs. $14 for a big box.  That’s because we hire more local people, who spend it in other local business…and on and on. We circulate the money more…which amps up the economy.
It’s called the “Multiplier Effect” and it could be the key to revving up our low-energy recovery.  butter lane 3

Say it Ain’t So, Bluebell!!

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So sad to hear today about Blue Bell layoffs!  Too many people don’t understand the impact on workers (1500 people!) and local domino effect.  I hope that, as #Bluebell says, this is just a necessary step toward their eventual recovery.  We’ll be here when you come back #bluebell! Til then, Texans everywhere are in mourning.

The hysteria over the pizza shop owner in Indiana makes me sad.

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Today we hear that he’s had to close his shop because of the backlash to his anti-gay-marriage stance. Even though I think that was a bone-headed move, I think we did small business owners a great disservice with the pile-on.  The whole thing also makes me nervous, because it reminds me of the cakes I’ve ‘opted out’ of at Butter Lane.  You get some pretty crazy, mostly pornographic requests for bachelor/bachelorette partes – and there have been a few I just didn’t feel comfortable asking our bakers to write.  I know this is very different ball of wax than discriminating against a whole category or class… but my nervousness remains.

I think this is a good chance to talk about the business we CAN turn away.  Let’s face it: that’s one of of the glorious things about being an SBO: control over your working environment.  So, yes, I sometimes turn down porn cakes that gross me out, or requests from rude and/or difficult customers. (That means you, complaining UWS lady who never tips.)  So here’s my vote: why don’t we focus on the discriminatory laws that matter, and that we do respect –  and stop yelling at the pizza guy.

Should a job at my bakery support a family?

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Six months ago, I would have said no. I think this is at the heart of the minimum wage debate.  I felt, as many opponents felt, that a retail job in the food industry is a ‘stepping stone’ job. Meant for teenagers, or part-timers looking to supplement their income. Now that the economy is squeezed, and better-paying jobs are scarce, we’re trying to force these retail jobs into some sort of middle-class bracket they just don’t warrant. If you pay a burger-flipper $600 ($15/hr at 40 hours/week) or $31k per year….well you’re gonna get a highly-qualified burger-flipper, but do we all win from that? (I get to say that because I was a 15-yr-old burger flipper (well, technically at a fried chicken joint), who made $250/wk – a FORTUNE  to me – for a place that got a 15-yr-old performance.  I was nice but flaky, just learning how to interact with the world and people. That chicken joint – and the string of jobs after – are where I learned all of that stuff. But I digress.

 Now I dunno. The managers in my shop – the ones that stay and keep us going – aren’t kids. They’re grown-ups managing a complex (some days chaotic) business, with critical problem-solving skills, customer-management savvy. They’re proactive and passionate about the business, worried about costs and sales along with me, and always more street savvy than I am.  My gut tells me they should make at least $40k/yr, IMO, for a 50-hr week. (Let’s take the overtime debate off the table for now.) Could the bakery afford it? I don’t see how.  What are other SBOs thinking these days?


Our new website is here!

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 We launched our new website last week!  Finally. We built this one in WordPress, which is easier for us to edit and navigate. It looks very simple, but the mechanics underneath were a bear.  Shopping cart, payment platforms, class scheduling….ugh.  We still have glitches but I think of it in ‘beta.’  (So hold your emails!) Our next one will be in Wix – my favorite user-friendly platform.  Wordpress is still surprisingly complicated to work in (IMO).

We got a new sign!

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We got a new sign and awning at Butter Lane East Village! This is the kind of thing that can make your whole day as an SBO. I wonder why. The old awning had some spilled paint on it that looked like bird poop (thanks upstairs neighbor!), which has made me blanch for months. Now if I could only do something our ugly a/c unit….