I got a new sleeping bag for our camping trip this weekend. I didn’t go to REI because I wanted the wide, old-fashioned kind with flannel inside. If the temperature drops below 50, I’ll probably be chilly because it’s not much more than a tube-shaped blanket, but I like it. As I was recycling all the extraneous stuff that came with it, a little slip of paper fluttered into the bin and the words on it caught my eye. It had the name of the small company that made it, and below that: “We appreciate you, dear customer!” I see these things a lot and wouldn’t usually give it a thought, but this one made me pause.
I’m looking forward to the road trip to our camping destination. I love road trips – especially in areas I’ve never explored. As I’m passing through a new town, if there’s one thing that makes me think, “I could live here,” it’s the presence of small businesses. Driving through miles of Walmarts, Home Depots, Targets, and Subways doesn’t do it for me. Seeing “Millie’s Coffee” or “Bud’s Hand-Carved Lawn Animals” or “Aunt Sissie’s Famous Pies” – that’s the stuff that makes me want to pull over.
Small businesses were already at a disadvantage before the pandemic. Now they’re really in peril. But there’s something about the experience of visiting a small business and the customer/purveyor relationship that many people really value. When we shop with a small business, not only are we choosing that “small business experience,” we’re also saying, “I want businesses like this to continue to exist.”
It works in both directions. My wife and I are also choosing the “small business experience” – from the purveyor’s side – and we really understand the sentiment of appreciation on that slip of paper. We feel grateful every time someone purchases something from us (I doubt Mr. Starbucks feels that way) and it goes a lot farther than you might think.
The most obvious reason we appreciate your business is because it allows us to feed and provide for our family. But it also enables us to devote ourselves to this work – it makes it possible for us to spend time writing uplifting articles to counter all the bad news out there. It makes it possible for us to invest ourselves in learning all that we can to be better educators and healthcare practitioners. It supports a team of dozens of others to earn a good living doing their healing and service work for the wellness of our community. It enables us to direct our earnings into the non-profit we started – the Well Life Foundation – to support women in vulnerable populations.
And beyond the monetary aspects, we appreciate that so many of you have touched our hearts, inspired us, and taught us. Every single day we get messages from members of the Dragontree community telling us what you’re passionate about, what you’re creating, and how you’re making the world a better place. I’m sure the makers of my sleeping bag do appreciate my business, but I doubt they get to have this kind of experience through their clients. I know it may be hard to swallow that it’s an honor to serve you, but it really is. We feel so blessed to have this avenue for helping people heal, grow, and connect.
As a business based largely on physical touch, it’s difficult to know what the future will hold for us. More than ever we’re focusing on ways to serve you without being in your six foot bubble. And when the time is right, we’ll reopen our doors (with masks on) and welcome you back into our spas.
Thanks for being in our lives,
Peter, Briana, and Everyone at The Dragontree