Friday, April 10, 2009


We have been fortunate over the last few months to experience a steady increase in the number of folks who visit Saxapahaw General Store. On one recent busy weekend afternoon, noting the energy in the store, a customer said to Jeff, "You guys aren't participating in this recession, are you?" At the time, I think Jeff laughed and made a witty reply to the gentleman. But we have thought a great deal about the idea of a recession--a state of decline, temporary or permanent--as something in which one could actually choose not to participate.

Certainly there are elements of economic decline that individuals cannot avoid, and I need not enumerate those here. But as a business--an economic entity--I have decided that, to an extent, we actually must choose not to participate in recessive trends, lest they should become part of the downward spiral to which they are reacting. Applicable here is the old idea that attention causes growth. At Saxapahaw General Store, we are intentionally paying attention to the community. Rather than finding ways to take cover in this difficult economy--to perform the retail business equivalent of hiding our pennies in a coffee can under the bed--we have been looking for responsible ways to serve the community so that we can meet its needs while growing our business. We listen to customers' requests for products, we look for local suppliers for the groceries we carry, and we seek to provide choice in food--close to home.

Of course, we cannot operate in a vacuum. I have written already of ways in which supporters of our store have contributed to our identity. Importantly, there are also other businesses in our wee village who are choosing to attend to community growth in lieu of scrutinizing their potential losses. This is where synergy enters my picture. The Greek roots of synergy, to my basic understanding, are "syn" (group, union, association) and "ergos" (work). And in Saxapahaw, I've been experiencing the results of the working together of united entities almost everywhere I look.

Here's one example, among many: Next week, the Haw River Canoe and Kayak Company is taking a group of folks on a paddle. They will be taking boxed lunches from Saxapahaw General Store with them, and they'll pay a visit to Benjamin Vineyards for a glass of wine at the end of their trip. Some may choose to stay the night at The River Landing Inn just down Whitney Road from the winery. On this day, our paddling guests will not overextend their budgets. They will not travel great distances to have an enjoyable afternoon. They will not feel stressed or burdened by the details of their experience. Instead, they will support four local businesses who associate with one another to provide meaningful, nourishing experiences for the people of the piedmont.

In these economic times, that's progress.


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