Cost-Benefit Analysis of Loyalty

Growing up in a town of 2,000 people it was hard not to be loyal to local business owners.  On our quaint Main Street there was a small grocery store (that to this day still sells just about everything), a butcher-shop (owned by my grandfather and then my aunt and uncle), a restaurant, a hair salon, the bank, a television and radio repair shop, and three bars (every small town needs at least this many!!).  If we wanted choice we had to drive 20 miles into the nearest city and back then it seemed like too much hassle.

Over the years, the landscape of that Main Street has changed - the butcher shop is no longer open, and there are two hair salons, as well as a chiropractor's office (there are now only 2 bars, one having burnt down) - but these businesses' contribution to the local economy has not.

The world of commerce is ever-changing and our ability to get goods at discount prices from big box stores and websites like Amazon often leaves us foregoing the smaller mom and pop businesses.  I guess you can't take the country out of the girl because I still try to support small, local businesses as much as possible - so much so that I found myself recently in Cedar City, Utah (a long way from Epworth, Iowa and Los Angeles, California) picking up 100 copies of new posters from a local printer because I liked the way someone else had had them designed for a show I did there this summer!  

In addition, I still try as much as possible to support the same music store in Dubuque, Iowa where I bought my first guitar.  There's nothing like being able to walk into the store and chat with my old friends there about what I'm doing, where I'm traveling and what my needs as a musician are.  I'm sure I haven't spent as much there as some people, but over the years between new P.A. systems, guitar strings, mic. stands and all of the rest of the accroutrements that go along with being a singer-songwriter I've thrown down some bucks.

People often argue that it's cheaper and easier to go into a big-box music store (I'm sure you know which one I'm talking about).  I don't deny this - it is and I will acknowledge that on occasion I have walked through their giant glass doors while on the road to buy a new cable or capo to replace the one that fell down my cup-holder and into the dark recesses of my car's chassis never to be found again (don't ask).  But you know what?  A big-box store will never repay your loyalty the way someone who knows your name will.

I mentioned in an earlier blog that I recently got my guitar some badly needed TLC.  Without going into too much detail, I will tell you that I did take that very guitar to the aforementioned music store.  Let's just say the price for that repair was very good (assume for yourself what this means) and you know why?  Because for years I have gone out of my way to support a business owner who has supported me - in what I need by way of gear and also just by general encouragement and comraderie.  Even though I have probably not always gotten the best deal on items by price, I have gotten the best deal in the form of a wonderful business relationship. 

This all serves as a very good reminder to me that the price of loyalty often outweighs the cost of goods.  It's important to reward loyalty and  I want to do even more this year to reward my loyal fans!  What rewards would you like to see as a result of your loyalty?  How has your loyalty to others paid off? Who do you need to be more loyal to?

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