I’m obsessed with the owner of a bagel shop in downtown Basking Ridge.
It started when I noticed he stocks his coffee bar with all sorts of flavored brews and syrups, plus every kind of sweetener imaginable, spices, etc. No extra charge. Now I like my condiments, so this spoke to me. It would be exceptional for a Starbucks, and he’s just a bagel shop.
Then last week, pavers and grass appeared in the small patch of sidewalk in front of his store. When we took the girls there on Sunday morning, he had added new tables and chairs, their price tags still fluttering in the breeze.
Coffee in hand (Cinnamon Hazelnut), I walked in and beelined it for the owner. For a second, he reminded me of my father, the boat business owner. An intense and faraway gaze in his eyes as he looked up from the financials spread in front of him.
“I’ve been noticing all the extra things you do for your customers,” I began. “It’s really nice to come here and make a coffee exactly the way I like it. And I love sitting outside! The new tables and chairs look great. You obviously take a lot of pride in your business.”
His face changed from questioning to relaxed. “Thank you,” he beamed. “That really makes my day because people have been complaining about the price increases.” He described how the price of coffee beans is up 43% due to a drought in Brazil. Starbucks recently began charging 5 to 20 cents more on their beverages. And here was the independent bagel store owner facing irate customers and cancelled orders despite all the extra perks.
I left wanting to help him, but how? I could publish his story on my blog, but most of you guys are in Manhattan. I called up my friend Patty at The Connections Magazine, a local publication showcasing nearby businesses and events. “I want to do a story about Cal at Ridge Bagel,” I said.
“Great idea!” she agreed, and then: “We’re always looking for writers to interview local business owners. Would you want to write more articles?”
Meet entrepreneurs and tell people their stories? Well, yeah, that sounds amazing!
My first assignment arrived this week, for an embroidery store along my running route. I’ve gotten one thing embroidered in my entire life and I often wondered how they stayed in business.
“I’m the mom of two young girls. I own a recruiting business with clients and employees. I’m part of a triathlon club and I coach running at Cedar Hill School,” I said, sitting in front of Mary at Mary’s Your Name Here in Millington, NJ. “What should I get embroidered?”
Many of you have said to me: “Maybe it’s time to do something more meaningful. It’s not like advertising saves lives.”
But what you do is important. In fact, I think marketing is downright heroic. You help people like Mary the embroiderer, or Cal the bagel guy position and promote products and ideas that mean the world to them.