Imagine you were walking down the street, looking for a mini-mart to purchase a soda.
(Or, if you’re me, a bigass cup of coffee.)
In the doorway of the first store you pass, there is an angry, hateful, pissy looking man propped against the door frame, a grungy apron around his neck and pulled tight across his middle, a sweaty cap pushed up from his face. His arms are crossed tightly across his chest. Although he has said nothing to you, his body language screams words of anger and profanity.
He stands chin up, looking down his nose at you, with a scowl on his face and a dark cloud over his head. You know by looking at him that he is the owner.
“STAY THE F#CK AWAY.”
He might be open for business, but you don’t want to do business with THAT guy. He is unwelcoming. Unapproachable. Hateful. Negative. You don’t want to talk to him at all, let alone give him your money, time, focus, attention, or business. Nope, nope, nope.
The second shop you pass has an open door, but when you peek inside the shop is a mess. It’s dirty. It smells. It’s gross to look at, and no way would you want to go in there to buy a soda, let alone anything else. [“Soda and a blood born pathogen? I’ll take two of each to go.”]
The person behind the counter is GORGEOUS. Perfect makeup, low cut shirt, beautiful, curvy body. She smiles a brilliant, white smile at you from behind the desk, and although she shows kindness to you as a person, she (obviously) gives no attention to the product in her store, let alone the store itself.
Using your best judgment, you move on. This shop owner, no matter how delightful to look at, does not provide for you a business worth your money. Her appearance does not do enough to establish trust, when you can see moldy produce and expired products, the rat poop on the floor and unorganized, unkempt shelves.
“I’m in business for reasons other than the customer. I’m in it for me, and how I look is more important than true character.”
The third shop you pass has an “open” sign in the window, but the door is shut, and inside of the store all of the lights are off. If there is a person in there, you don’t see them. There is no indication by the outside of the store that it is open for business, regardless of what the sign says.
“Open, but not really.”
This describes 90% of small business owners. “Open, but not really.”
Whether it is apathy, introversion, cynicism, indifference, complacency, self-protection, or just purely lack of awareness, most small business owners fail to turn on the lights to invite people in.
Physically, yes. They are there, they show up every day.
Emotionally, though. MENTALLY.
Mentally, they haven’t put out the welcome mat, opened the door, or stood outside waiting to smile at people walking by.
Whether it be in business or a personal life, no one can see who you are when you hide inside. People pass by every day and peer into your face, into your shop, but they don’t see that there’s anyone in there. If they peek in the window they can tell that the place inside is inviting and clean, tidy and well set up for business, but there isn’t anyone there. Maybe they see in the very back of the store a light shining through the cracked office door, but no one working the desk, no one shopping.
No one available for question or conversation.
“Open, but not really.”
Finally, your thirst for a delicious drink almost overwhelming, you spot one last shop.
The lights are on. The inside of the shop is clean and warm and inviting, well organized, all kinds of rare and interesting things on the shelves. The door to the shop is open, and the owner is standing out on the front mat, greeting you as you approach. She says “HI, welcome!”
Her smile is warm. She is glad to say hi to you, regardless of your shopping intention. Whether you went in to her shop to buy something or just passed her by on the sidewalk, you are glad to have seen her. She made your day better with her kind acceptance of your mere presence.
When you walk in the shop, you are happy to be there. It is comfortable inside, and it smells like cookies. (cookies are my favorite!) She walks in behind you and asks if she can help you, then gives you the space you need to look around. When you have questions about the weird stuff you find you feel completely comfortable asking her, and she answers patiently and with kindness. Without judgment, without expectation.
"I am so glad you're here!"
The only difference between “open but not really” and this last shop owner, is presence.
Our goal at River Ridge, in business, life, and with each relationship we create with every employee, vendor, and customer, is to live our lives like the last shop you pass.
It is our goal to create a presence. To show up.
Not just in a physical sense, because (as any business owner will tell you) when you’re an entrepreneur, you live and breathe your business.
It is our goal to show up with HEART.
We challenge you to do the same, with every single thing you do.
Your heart and soul, your shop, your life, is full of amazing, interesting, rare, curious things. Any person, male or female, could spend years wandering around in your head, marveling at what they find, growing more and more curious the deeper they go.
Your job is to OWN THOSE THINGS. Own those things that make you extraordinary, and pocket them like rubies and gold and fifty carat diamonds. Own them and take pride in them. Wake up and move throughout your day as though you've got a secret stash of treasure in your chest pocket.
Own your heart and mind as though they are the most valuable asset on the planet, because they are.
They are YOU.
The things that make you extraordinary were not put there by mistake. God doesn’t make mistakes. Each human life, molded and refined through experience and life choices, is full of the most amazing treasure.
I have always believed that a business is no more or less than the person behind it, made greater by the people who visit. It is my sincerest hope that our business accurately represents the amazing people we have working inside of it,
and that those people are worth representing.
If we aren’t, you should tell us.
To you, our treasured guest, thank you for your business. Thank you for being a part of what we attempt to create every day.
Thank you for stopping in and grabbing that pathogen-free soda. We look forward to seeing you again!