JP’s small businesses need customer support

May 30, 2008
By

The “For Lease” sign appeared in Boing’s window, and an outpouring of concern began. Daily, people came in to lament. Children asked why. Everyone seems genuinely relieved we’re just moving down the street.

This has been heartwarming and gratifying. I feel like Sally Field accepting her Oscar: “You like us. You really like us.” My original goal was to be part of the fabric of JP. These last few weeks you’ve said we are.

You’ve heard it a million times—it’s hard running a small business. But it’s also gratifying. All JP’s small businesses need customer support—especially in this day of big-box stores and online shopping.

We live in an over-the-top-busy culture. Late-night online shopping and big-box one-stops are considered stress relievers. But there are consequences.

I want to share how a fellow toy store owner, Linda Hays in Oregon, explained it on the American Specialty Toy Retailing Association e-mail list:

“I don’t need this position in my community as much as my community needs me to fill it. I work because I need my community to be strong. I need to make my business strong so I can afford to keep doing it. A toy store is a natural heart-of-the-community kind of business. I shop all local businesses with the same drive and commitment that makes me run mine. It makes my community better. It makes my world better for my children and my grandchildren.

“We can’t underestimate the accountability that comes with a decentralized economy. We make better decisions when consequences can land on our doorstep. Right now my kids are learning right from wrong. If their behavior bites them immediately, they learn faster. You only get that accountability in microcosms. Large corporations that operate without conscience do not have to account. They don’t have to look the people they harm in the face and clean up the messes that affect their communities. Small. Local. Accountable.”

For JP, this might sound like preaching to the choir. But people often think that independent store prices are higher. Not necessarily true—especially when considering shipping costs, proximity and the price of gas!

A town center is a three-legged stool comprised of small businesses, customers and landlords. All three are necessary for it to be vibrant. And, lest we forget, a vibrant town center contributes to property value along with convenience and community pride.

JP’s small businesses want to financially sponsor soccer and little league and softball teams. We want to donate to auctions, raffles, First Thursdays, Open Studios and the Lantern Parade. We want to do Halloween Trick or Treat and the holiday stroll. We want to be part of the fabric of this community. It’s impossible without your conscious, vigilant decision to shop with us. That’s what keeps the moth holes out of the fabric.

We at Boing are immensely grateful for your concern and well wishes. Keep telling us how we can be better. We want to be your first choice—dare I say only choice?—for toys and fun gifts for kids of all ages.

Elaine Hackney
Boing! JP’s Toy Shop
Jamaica Plain

Editor’s note: As of June 1, Boing, now at 729 Centre St., will be located at 667 Centre St.