If you’re the new business in town, it’s important to understand your local community and adapt your business accordingly. When we opened Fork & Anchor in the small town of East Marion, New York, it was important to honor its history as a general store dating back to the 1890s and support its role as a neighborhood-gathering place. Here’s how we’ve built up a small-business support system of local locals—and how you can, too.
1. Serve as a gathering place.
Nurture your community by serving as the gathering place for locals and tourists. We thrive on serving as a resource for information and local references, recommending everything from restaurants to babysitters and snow plowing services to general contractors. People feel more connected and loyal to any business that fosters positive energy and demonstrates commitment to serving the community, whether through word-of-mouth referrals like ours, or through more formal social responsibility programs.
2. Understand and incorporate the community's needs into your business.
Listen to what your customers’ needs are, and grow the business accordingly. This establishes trust and mutual respect and a greater chance for success.
3. Collaborate with other local businesses.
Create a dialogue that allows community members to learn how to support each other. We’ve done that through our CSA [community supported agriculture] pickup, using local produce in our menu items and jarred chutney, donating to schools and local charities, and selling our neighbors’ products at our store.
4. Be aware of ongoing changes in the community.
Be open to the need for change, and structure your business to be able to enact those changes. Employ staff members who embody your vision of customer service, appreciate the community, and the importance of our regulars.
Read more about Fork & Anchor.
Photos: Christopher Lane
FORK & ANCHOR / LUCY MUELLNER AND ERIN JOHNSON / MEMBERS SINCE 05