I was walking in Manhattan, on my way to pick up my CSA share for the week, when my brain started wandering. In that urgent desire to write out what I was feeling, thinking, I actually stopped in Starbucks after the pickup, still in the city, to get my laptop out and write. Sometimes, I just know that if I don’t get it out right now, it may disappear. And I don’t think my brain benefits so much from these lost thoughts, bouncing around in my skull.
I don’t consider myself a potential entrepreneur… Not even with this little experimental proposal. I don’t have the true spirit of one, I don’t think. Or maybe I don’t have the balls to be one. I just know that if it ever happens, it’s going to be when I am far more financially secure, when I am more experienced… when I’m an adult and not just feeling my way into it. Now, that could easily mean that it will never happen, but I always keep in mind that my father was in his late forties (probably more like right at fifty years old) when he opened the market. Anyway, tangents are my middle name, but me opening my own business isn’t the point of this.
As I get older, I regularly realize small aspects of my personality that reflect what I grew up with to a tee. Things no one else may connect, but to me, it’s oddly fascinating. How genes are passed, nature vs nurture, blah blah blah, have always intrigued me in a superficial way. So what’s a better study than yourself? Anyway, as of lately, I’ve noticed how the way my father runs his business and the way his customers treat him are completely a part of how I treat business owners. While nothing is ever 100% true, if you’re a small business and you do what you do well, I’m going to be a damn good customer. If it’s possible, I love getting to know business owners on at least a slight personal level. I like connecting with people, and I obviously feel slightly knowledgeable in how it is to own your own business because I grew up around it. And because it was the only source of money in the household, the status of the store was news to know.
My dad’s customers are pretty amazing. They constantly bring him food – homemade usually, or some interesting something or other they may have bought. There’s art, trinkets, cards, just stuff. Ways they show their appreciation. I’m 99.9% sure that anything in the store that’s ‘plaqued’ – newspaper reviews – customers did for him. Because my dad, while he is proud, is not overt. He’s more of a subtle boaster – “Oh, it’s just my little ol’ store, nothing special.” When,you know it is something special and he damn well knows it.
As I spend more time in New York, and try to get to know businesses, cafes, restaurants, food carts, and I make connections with owners, I see the way my father’s customers treat him coming through. My prime example of late is with the Big Gay Ice Cream Truck. From day one, when I heard about him, I couldn’t help but love it. Rainbow cone logo? Flamboyant and fun? C’mon, you’ve got your number one fan here. While ice cream is not what I should be eating, I still feel a camaraderie with a venture like this, and a desire to support him, even if it is not strictly financial. When you meet a business owner like Doug, who is a friendly, fun, creative New Yorker, you want to see them succeed. So, little things my father’s customers do, I see myself doing. During one of my “I just must bake” fits, I took him some of the results. And then, I heard via Twitter that his truck was featured in the September issue of The Advocate (and that he didn’t have a copy of the magazine yet). I was already in the Union Square area, so, even though I’m technically broke, I decided I would swing through Barnes & Noble and pick up a copy for him. One of those things where I know, being a business owner, and having a truck to tend to, that you don’t have the time to go get something like that the days you’re working. And your days off? It’s called bed.
It’s the small things that I really love doing for people. Surprises, things that make people smile because it’s simply unexpected. And they’re simple things. Things that so many people don’t do anymore, which makes you value them even more. Yeah, I guess it’s not just something I do for business owners I like, but more so for friends. I think that is something more people should consider these days – places you frequent, do you think of them as friends, or just another person you cross paths with? While I know every business isn’t small enough to chat up with the owner, these are the places I love. I don’t always get to do so, either because I’m feeling shy, rushed, or generally out of it. But in a giant city like New York, being able to connect with someone, even just the owner of your favorite market or your barista, on a more personal level is a great feeling. Yes, you can be a regular in this city!
[P.S. It seems like every post just gets more and more verbose…]
[P.P.S. I’ll try not to gush about BGICT more… I realize my last post mentioned him too… teehee.]