Sunday, August 05, 2012

Lessons in Business in Tallahassee

This is a small cautionary tale about business, one a small business, and one a large one. We'll start with the small business, the former Seminole Wind on Monroe.
Former Seminole Wind
The first time I even knew Seminole Wind existed was when I drove by it July of last year and caught site of the sign addressed to the President hanging up high (see below). I stopped and grabbed a photo, and then drove on. It was in July of last year that I helped my youngest daughter move into her current residence, another rental. We were driving up an down Monroe between where we were staying on Monroe and where my daughter eventually wound up. My daughter had never heard of this place in all the time she'd been there and I'd never noticed, like I said, before now. After this one photo I forgot about it.

And then, this past weekend, driving up Monroe back to where our hotel was I happened to glance over to the place and saw it was completely closed up. The only indication that there was even a closure was a simple piece of paper taped to the inside of the front door saying "Sorry We're Close!" in large handwritten letters followed by "Rest in Peace" in much smaller letters.
Seminole Wind
You can draw your own conclusion as to why it closed, from the simple reason that it was the economy to the ridiculous that agents of the President put it out of business. It's the effect I'm focused on. This was no chain, no regional or national business. This was a local business, someone's dream made real. And now it's no more. It served a local community, employed people who were a part of the community, provide an important service (preparing and serving food), and even provided color and diversity to the community. If my exposure to other small business people is any indication, this owner believed in that business and would do whatever it took to keep that business going. The owner would not have lightly closed up and walked away.
Former Ramada Sign
Further up Monroe, at the intersection of Monroe and I-10, sits the hulking brick structure that was a former Ramada Inn. It's been empty for nearly three years. I found out by talking to a former employee who now works at the next-door Cracker Barrel that the reason this Ramada was closed was because the owners didn't want to spend the money to upgrade this Ramada. They didn't want to spend the money because it would cut into the corporations profits. And so they shut down this Ramada and put everyone that worked there out of a job. A lot more people that would be working at Seminole Wind. People that might have helped keep Seminole Wind in business by eating there.
Former Ramada
Ramada isn't the only company that made a soulless corporate decision to close down a "non-performing" branch. I've watched the owners of Circuit City and Borders do the same, starting with individual stores and then shutting down entire companies, because the investors wanted to get their investment money back out. We've let the large big-box store chains come through and infiltrate all our communities, in the process economically hollowing out our communities. The rich diversity of many small businesses is replaced with a weaker group of larger companies that, when the going gets rough, will make decisions removed from the communities they've been built in that can lead to many of them being shut down and throwing a lot of good people out of work. And so the job losses ripple throughout the community, eventually taking out the smaller businesses that are left. Too many large companies are selfish and indifferent, in stark contrast to the small business owner who is selfless and totally dedicated, and who doesn't stand a chance against the larger selfish and indifferent.

1 comment:

  1. The quaterly report is, what makes a large business decide what to do.
    We have the same here in Ruesselsheim, Germany, where Opel, unfortunately owned by GM, is slowly being killed for short-sighted profit.
    This is going to be a century dominated by asian countries. These guys think in generations and will therefore succeed.


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