Each year, many of us make new year’s resolutions to eat better, exercise more, invest in our relationships, learn a new skill, and lots of other self-improvement activities. Well, I propose we all add one to the list: to shop locally. I know this isn’t a new idea, but with the closing of two School Street shops, it’s more important than ever to remember how nice it is to go into a store where people really know their stuff and they care about providing good service to friends and neighbors.
After 35 years, the Habitat will close in early February. Anyone who has ever needed a wedding gift, housewarming gift, or birthday gift knows that owner Ken Chapman not only has the perfect gift, he will also wrap it so it belongs on the cover of Good Housekeeping and make you chuckle with a little town gossip or some irreverent comment. The closing of the Habitat is the end of an era and while I know all things must end, I’m sorry to see the Habitat go.
Another beloved boutique for many Ukiah shoppers is Three Sisters, which is up for sale. For more than 13 years, owner Leslie Batz has offered a wonderful assortment of gifts from handmade soaps to silk scarves, wind chimes, jewelry, healing stones, and books on the mystical arts. While I admit this is not something I know much about, friends who enjoy these things tell me they love the store and the people who work there.
I compare the wonderful things I hear about our local shops with a recent story from a friend who lives in the Bay Area. He bought a washer and dryer at a big box store and paid to have them delivered and installed. The first time the installers came, they were missing a few essential parts. Because the box store hired a third-party delivery service with no particular expertise (or investment in a job well done), the delivery guys simply loaded the washer and dryer back onto their truck and suggested that my friend call the box store to figure out why they didn’t have all the parts.
My friend called the box store and after being put on hold for what felt like most of the afternoon, a not-too-helpful clerk explained that his washer and dryer had been recorded on two different orders, so he needed to pay for installation twice because there was no way to blend the orders. As you can imagine, that’s not what he wanted to hear. Long story short, after several discussions with a manager and a few more false starts on the installation, he is finally enjoying his new appliances; however, he has sworn never to shop at that big box store again.
His story makes me realize how lucky we are to have places like Pardini Appliance where mistakes are incredibly rare, and if they happen, they are fixed immediately. The same is true for most of our local businesses. Local businesspeople are invested in their products and services, because they know their good reputation keeps customers returning year after year. Also, as community members, they support local charities, children’s sports, and so much more.
When you buy something from Amazon that you could have purchased in Ukiah, you may save a couple of dollars, but you miss out on that hometown service and you make it harder for local businesses to stay afloat. If we don’t support our local businesses, the only stores left will be big box stores and online retailers. Let’s work together so this doesn’t happen. Support local businesses in 2020.
If you have questions about property management or real estate, please contact me at email@example.com or call (707) 462-4000. If you have an idea for a future column, share it with me and if I use it, I’ll send you a $25 gift certificate to Schat’s Bakery.
Dick Selzer is a real estate broker who has been in the business for more than 40 years.