In Praise of Small Business

J&J HardwareThis past week I went to J&J Hardware, my local hardware store. I love this store. It’s located at 100 Ark Road in Mount Laurel, NJ. The store phone is 856-235-2771. As their business card says, they sell propane filling, Weber grills, mulch, topsoil, fertilizer, sheds, garages, outdoor bars, carports, window/screen repair and storm doors, and have thousands of small items.

It was the third time I’ve gone there in 2 weeks. I now think up reasons to go. And things to buy. This time I bought a screw. Hardly a high margin purchase. But it was important to me, and I knew J&J would help me find the right screw for the hardware for the small table we have. I brought the drawer with me. They helped me. I had 2 similar experiences over the past 2 weeks. Each time they couldn’t have been nicer. “No that’s not the right bulb” etc. Helping me in every small item. I am not a handy guy and I am needy. They are patient and I am in awe.

Then the bell went off for me. That’s the kind of business we need to support. J&J Hardware is one of thousands of  local businesses employing local people, a business that’s part of the community they serve, and one where the money I spend directly or indirectly goes back into the community. I apologized to the owner for my past patronage of Home Depot for my hardware needs. I have also recently sold their stock that I owned. Hardly put a dent in their coffers anyway (BTW, the stock has peaked—for investors it’s time to sell). I have nothing against Home Depot or Lowe’s. They are the big box hardware monsters. They surely have excellent prices and a large variety of stuff. They certainly have their merits. But would they help me find a screw? Do they support the little league? They put their big box stores on highly trafficked roads and seek large volume, and they crush the local hardware stores on pricing. Furthermore the government is in their corner.  The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 changed the top corporate tax rate from 35% to one flat rate of 21% aiding the Home Depots of the world. Was that deep a business tax cut really necessary? Did it stimulate business (hardly) or increase profits (absolutely). Remember this tax plan, with its illusory personal tax reductions, when the government claims its funding has decreased and deep cuts in essential services and social services are necessary to counteract the overall revenue deficit and bloated debt. It’s coming around the bend.

This Saturday November 30 is the 10th Anniversary of Small Business Saturday, a “holiday” created by American Express, an ingenious idea. Basically, it celebrates the J&J Hardwares of our country and small local businesses. The holiday encourages us all to patronize local small businesses for our Holiday shopping. In 2010 American Express (hardly a small business, but a smart business with an understanding of local communities) started the Shop Small movement. As it says in the Shop Small website, “American Express cares deeply about thriving communities and believes small businesses are at the core of every successful neighborhood. That’s why — in the midst of the recession in 2010 — we created Small Business Saturday® on the Saturday after Thanksgiving to encourage people to Shop Small and bring more holiday shopping to small businesses”.

They go on to claim that “for every dollar spent at a small business in the U.S., approximately 67 cents stays in the local community”. I believe it.

Thanks again for J&J Hardware (thank you Tony) and all the local hardware stores, and local merchants. I appreciate you all more than ever.

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