During the holiday season, we are all bombarded with million-dollar marketing campaigns pushing the bulk distribution of the hottest gifts. That’s what it takes for major corporation to grow their profits. But for the many still remaining mom-and-pop shops in Pinal County, the key to keeping the stores open depends less on massive amount of money and more on what can’t be measured.
In this issue of Pinal Ways, we talked to people running 13 businesses from around Pinal county that have withstood the tests of time. We wanted to know what got them going, what kept them going and what they plan to do keep going well into the future. These are the people who have made their communities what they are, so it’s worth getting to know them and how they did it.
What kept coming up over and over again is the importance of being honest and keeping your word if you want to maintain a strong customer base at a time where competition is at its highest — and most expensive — level ever. If people feel they aren’t being treated like individuals or being taken advantage of, they might as well go to a place where they might be able to save a couple bucks.
The thing about publicly traded corporations is that making enough to stay in business and paying employees isn’t quite enough. Shareholders want profits to not only exist but to grow constantly from year to year. So what has worked well over the years often gets thrown out for something that might work better, no matter if it’s for the benefit of the customer.
The business owners we talked to don’t think the same way. They’re always looking to grow, but not at the expense of ruining their reputations. As one said, it’s better for them to make a little bit from a potential returning customer than a lot from someone who will never come back. As long as they can turn an honest profit, it’s worth maintaining those relationships that keep people coming in and spreading the word to others they should follow suit.
Of course, it’s not an easy task maintaining a business this way. Focusing only on profit margins would certainly be easier, but bigger places can always beat them at that game. So they stay true to who they are, while adapting to an ever-changing world and economy. Many of the businesses profiled in this issue don’t look exactly the same as they did when they started. They’ve adopted many 21st century practices, but they do so while maintaining that same integrity that got them started in the first place.
Whether they last forever remains to be seen. Plenty of businesses that maintained these ethics have had to call it quits in recent years. But one thing that remains clear after talking to these owners is that if they’re going to go out, they’re going to do so their own way.