I think any business owner, of any type or size, has had that cringe worthy moment of when a direct competitor opens in their town, especially a small town.
Thoughts constantly running through your mind; Are your sales going to go down? Are your customers going to like their business more? Is this business going to steal your employees?
We have been in the boutique business since 2011, 6 years I’ve been dealing with those questions. Over these past years, I have seen many boutiques come and go in this town, I have also seen many come and stay, becoming very successful. I would be lying if I didn’t tell you I have had many sleepless, anxiety filled nights freaking out over the newest store opening. These days, however, I’ve not only become immune to new business’, but I have realized how new business’ coming to town only helps Twisted J even more.
Competition can be good Competition. End of Story.
When we first started, there may have been some already established stores who were not happy we were opening. Though during all of this madness, another business owner in town once told me what they don’t understand is its only bringing new shoppers to this area. Shoppers that may only know of us, may stumble across their store too. Why do you think you always see a CVS and Walgreens together?
When I was growing up in this town, we did not have many shopping choices. When it was time for back to school clothes we would go spend a full weekend in Fort Worth just to find what we needed. Now Stephenville is home to at least 12 locally owned boutiques, and that list is constantly growing. With the help of these growing boutiques, we can now proudly say people travel to Stephenville just to shop. People can spend their weekends in our little town with options after options to fill their shopping needs.
Yes, we have to share our customers with 11 other boutiques, BUT we are also keeping the shopping in this town instead of 2 hours away.
Even cooler part, we’ve all become friends. I do not personally know every owner here in town, but I know several of them and it really is a cool relationship to have. Even though we are all competing with each other, we help each other. I have picked several of the owners ears on different topics, how to handle different situations, what their opinions are on something, and the list goes on. I have had new owners come to me asking for advice and I give it to them. We all let the others know when there may be a series of thieves going around or odd situations. When customers come into our store looking for a certain item or brand that we don’t carry, we for sure refer to them to the boutique down the road that may have it. I’m blessed to know that they do the same for us.
If you are any type of human at all, you don't want to see anyone fail. Everyone deserves to be successful in life. There is enough business to go around in any type of business, not just boutiques.
So for my future business owners. Go into your town with the best attitude you can. Do not ever have the attitude that you’re going to be better than all the existing business’, or that you’re going to run them out of business. Remember they have experience and most likely know what they’re doing. You don’t want to start off on the wrong foot. Have the attitude that you’re going to be just as successful as the others in town, look up to them.
For my current business owners. Welcome new businesses to town with open arms. You’ve been there once, you know the struggles of opening something new and the hard work that it takes. Make their lives a little easier with being friendly and helpful. No, you don’t have to give all your secrets away; but prepare them for the slow times, let them know if they have a bad day its going to be OK!
I’ll leave you with this. Being successful isn’t always about being the best, it’s about being that person (or company) that people look up to. Create friendships with your competitors, your customers, and your employees; it’ll be the coolest relationships you’ll ever have. If you have a dream GO FOR IT! Thinking about putting a store in Stephenville, need advice, come find me!
I usually know what I'm going to talk about the next week, but to be perfectly honest I have no idea what I'm going to talk about. So check back for a surprise blog.
P.S. I am for sure not a professional writer, so don’t judge =).