When you hear the terms ostrich or Myrtle burger, what comes to mind? Or pink pig van? Rudolph? How about tiny paper plates?
All of these things are hallmarks of Oak Ridge small businesses. You’ve heard it said that small business is the back bone of our economy, but we are so much more. We fill a need that franchises and big box stores simply cannot—we are what distinguish one strip-mall lined community from another. We give our city its unique flavor.
And while memorabilia and gimmicks certainly embed images in our minds, these businesses are fueled by the literal blood, sweat, and tears of people. The shop owners and employees aren’t just entrepreneurs; they are your neighbors, your friends and your family.
We all value convenience and good deals, but as the recent “Shop Local” movements have demonstrated, much is sacrificed for the sake of saving a buck or two (real or perceived).
Oak Ridge recently saw another locally-owned small business prepare to close up shop. After nearly 50 years in business, Ridge Package Store succumbed to the losses resulting from the law that now allows wine sales in grocery stores.
We certainly don’t blame anyone for wanting greater shopping options, but there’s no question that the change has hurt small stores like ours. Rather than complain, we will adapt. Lizz’s Wine and Spirits will start with making people aware of the advantages of buying wine from package over big-box stores.
First, let’s talk about price. There is a misconception that larger retailers may sell wine cheaper. For a variety of reasons I won’t go into here, that is not always or even usually the case. From what we’ve seen so far, regular pricing at larger stores can be significantly higher than at small stores. Since most wine lovers have their favorites, we strongly recommend you price check a few times before you fall into a new habit that could end up costing you a lot more over the long run.
A second factor to consider when shopping for wine at small shops is, ironically, convenience. When you are on your way to a party, the lake or home on a Friday evening, smaller stores are much easier to run in and out of. In our shop, you are less likely to face crowded aisles or get stuck in a long line while someone is price checking produce.
Keep in mind, too, that money you spend in locally owned stores provides the most direct impact on our local economy. More dollars stay within our community because they sustain the families of employees who, in turn, pay property taxes and utilities and support sports clubs, churches, and other nonprofits with their giving. All of this without the large corporations they work for sending money to out-of-state headquarters.
Finally, and probably of most importance when wine shopping, small stores provide both personal service and expertise that large stores do not. Our staff knows our products better than anyone and is committed to customer retention. Therefore, we are more likely to know your name, remember your preferences, and help you pick out the best pairing for that special meal you’ve planned.
At Lizz’s Wine and Spirits, we are continuously working to improve our service and selection. That means listening closely to our customers expressed and implied needs. We invite you to share with us what you like and don’t like. We thank you for supporting us for over 40 years and hope to be around for 40 more! Cheers!
Note: The submitted letters and columns published in the Opinion section do not necessarily reflect the views of Oak Ridge Today or its staff.
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