Last week, I received a call from my good friend Kam Rashy (pronounced Camera-Shy) that got me thinking about the support that Black businesses may or may not receive from our community.
“Catfish Corner is gone?” said an animated Kam through the phone. “First the Silver Fork and now this. All of our businesses are closing and it ain’t right!”
Before I could say anything, he responded with his usual question, “What are we going to do?”
“The success of a business is a two-way street,” I said. “Yes, there are variables that the general public has no control over (i.e. management, finances, etc.). But in addition to having a good product and customer service, the business has a responsibility to stay relevant through their own marketing and advertising strategies. You know the old saying, “out of sight, out of mind.”
“What does that have to do with Catfish Corner?” demanded Kam.
“Nothing, I’m really speaking in general,” I said. “But let me ask you a question… When is the last time you ate at Catfish Corner?”
“That ain’t none of your business,” he snapped back at me.
“Have you been there more than once in the last year?” I asked.
*Crickets* silence was on the other end of the phone.
Here’s my point: you can’t assume that just because a business is around today that it will be here 5, 10, 15 or even one year from now. There is no guarantee that your “favorite” business will be here tomorrow if you, as a concerned consumer, do not make an effort to support them, and encourage others to support them on a regular basis. However, a business cannot assume that just because they are open for business that the community will support them either. Again, this is a general statement that is not intended to reflect upon a particular business. The failure of any business has its own set of circumstances, but the one thing that can make or break a business is CASH FLOW. If a business does not have sufficient cash flow it cannot succeed.
Retail businesses tend to be the most visible businesses in our community, and they rely on the patronage of regular customers to forecast and budget. The bigger their regular customer base, the better chance that they have to withstand changes in the spending habits of a few of their customers.
“So again, I’m asking you when is the last time you ate at Catfish Corner?” I asked.
“You’re right,” Kam responded. “I have not been there in a long time. But I’m just shocked. They’ve been around for so long. I just thought t that they’d be around forever.”
Whatever the reason(s) that Catfish Corner fell by the wayside at this point is irrelevant. However, what is relevant is that there are more businesses in our community that could use our collective support. If these businesses succeed, others will follow.
Believe it or not, the strength of a community is measured by the strength of their business community. Few people want to talk about this important aspect of our society, but money talks and business people speak to decision makers in terms of dollars and cents in a country that is built upon the motto of “In God We Trust.” Don’t believe me? Think about the communities that are well respected in this country, and then ask yourself what is the common denominator.
According to a report issued by Nielsen, the spending power of African Americans is estimated to reach $1.1 trillion by 2015., However, some speculate that the average dollar circulates in our community less than one time and is estimated by some to stay in our community for less than six hours. It has been said that the average dollar circulates in the Asian community six times before leaving their community and circulates nearly 10 times before leaving the Jewish community. When you look at these numbers common sense tells us that if we make a conscious effort to circulate dollars in our community, we can save and sustain many of the businesses in our community that we love.
What can we do? That choice is up to you. You can sit back and complain or you can literally put your money where your mouth is.
Through the eyes of an ink barrel, may peace be unto you!