Today, I heard another story about the little guy (in this case a Doctor in a sole practice) being pushed out of business by the much bigger guy who opened up next door (an out patient hospital clinic specializing in the same field). There is no fighting back…no recourse…just the grim reality that everything you’ve worked for is going down the drain.

Last week, I was disappointed to discover that in a small town right outside of Asheville, a franchise chocolate business was opening up just doors down from a family owned shop. As I ate lunch in a local cafe, I questioned the cafe owners about what was happening. One of the owners shrugged and said, “We don’t like what we see taking place but the franchise owners eat lunch here quite a bit. They’re nice people and….(he stopped and took a deep breath)…we need the business.” Then, as if to make things better, he let me know that a popular chain restaurant was coming to town and would probably steal all his business away.

None of this sits very well with me. When I opened up my business, Everything Chocolate, Inc in 2000, my goal was to offer my clients outstanding products from family owned American chocolatiers. I wanted to do my part to help them stay in business and not be swallowed up by huge companies like Walmart who could YES beat their prices but not the quality of the products. My concern was that one day all the family owned businesses, some of them on second and third generations, would just be a memory.

To the Doctor who offered his patients quality service and years of dedicated care, please accept my apology for what’s happening to you and your practice. And to the chocolate shop who will be struggling to stay in business…Let’s hope that the locals care enough about you as a valued member of the community to support your business knowing that the tourists are going to flock to your competition to save a penny or two.

And to my readers…Please don’t give up on the little guy. Bigger is not always better!

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