Owning a business is much like having children. You plant a seed and watch it grow. You hope that the little creation you share with the world will have a positive impact, grow and ultimately mature into a fully functioning, well behaved and reputable establishment. Along this road there are many tears, both of joy and sadness, a ton of sweat, and more love than one might understand. A business is a baby and we take pride in what we have birthed.

 It is no secret that our economy is going through a bit of a rough spell right now. It is seen everywhere from Wall Street to Main Street, and even though we are both concerned and curious about how our retail neighbors are faring in these stormy financial seas, there are a few things to keep in mind. Before asking a business owner questions about their financials, I would hope that you consider how you might feel if someone asked you the same question in regards to yourself, your family, your children.

On far too many occasions I am asked at my storefront “if I think I will be here at the end of the year.” “Are you able to pay your rent and your bills?” “Do banks foreclose on businesses?” It is because I realize that many people do not understand that this is not only not ok, but offensive, and they are simply concerned, that I smile and nod. But to a business owner, these questions are the same as a stranger asking you if the bank will repo your car, if your family yet receives food stamps and perhaps wondering aloud if you might get fired in the next week and lose your retirement. I wish this weren’t as much of a problem as it is.

I feel that I represent many small businesses when I say that we appreciate your concern, but ask you to express yourself by supporting the small businesses in your area, and thinking about the impact your words may have. We are not talking about a room full of things with a price tag, but someone’s child. Someone’s love, sweat and tears.

How do you support a small business you ask? By choosing them over the large box stores and spreading the word to your friends about “the cute little shop over on ____”. Word of mouth is an amazing tool to be utilized, and unfortunately, we as humans would rather share a bad experience that a positive one, 9:1. I would ask that we change that. Spread the good word about the great things you have seen and experienced and support your local businesses. They need you to make sure none of the terrible things possible can happen. And by supporting these businesses and watching them flourish, we no longer have to wonder, less ask, if they are able to pay their bills.