'Working together' and community support help small businesses flourish

Zoe Greszler • May 2, 2018 at 9:00 PM

It’s National Small Business Week and if you ask local shop owners, there’s no better city or county to be in business. 

Norwalk is known for its “shop small” mentality and general support of local businesses and owners have taken notice.

“It’s a world of difference,” said Julie Duncan, owner of Duncan & Co. Home Galleries, which moved to 9 W. Main St. about six months ago.

“Over in Avery, we’d go not seeing even one customer the whole week and we can’t keep up now. It is a good problem to have and we’re very blessed to have that problem.

“This is one of the best I’ve ever seen (communities that support local shops) and I’ve been everywhere I’ve had a lot of places I could have went with my business,” Duncan added. “I was in the Cleveland area for years. There’s been so many different opportunities there, but I felt like I wanted this. Norwalk is amazing. ... It feels like home. We love Norwalk. We’ll be here for a long, long time.”

Duncan & Co. not only is receiving good traffic for its custom furniture and home goods, but also announced its partnership with Wakeman’s Danielion flower shop. That will allow it to sell the “luxury” cash and carry floral arrangements as well. The Danielion hub held a grand opening in front of the flower cooler inside Duncan on Tuesday.

“It’s just an extension of us really,” said Danielion owner Daniel Stober. 

“We think it’s a great compliment with the furniture and what’s happening here. Julie actually approached me when she was first opening the store in Avery, but I never felt like that was quite the right fit, so when this came about ... we decided it was finally time to tie the two businesses together in their own entities, but be able to function together.”

The flower shop also will display some of the chalk-painted furniture in Wakeman as well.

“It’s been a great cross-marketing on both sides,” Stober said.

For Stober, this was just one more way to take advantage of the small business perks. He said “without a doubt” it is vital for small businesses to band together and support one another whenever possible.

“That was one of the most exciting things about this partnership is because it really allowed that to happen,” he added. “It’s a thing from a small business standpoint, because we’re supportive of each other.”

Duncan agreed.

“You can’t ask for (more),” she said. “All the local businesses send customers to each other. It's a big family on Main Street. The more we can do together, the better off everyone is.”

Clothing shop Amez Boutique owner Amy Nevills said the Main Street businesses “band together” and offer something most other communities don’t have.

“We all work together and we help each other out. We’ll send customers to each other’s stores and we support eachother,” she said. “That’s important because with local, small shops, that’s how you grow and survive.”

Shopping small has other benefits too though for customers.

“My biggest thing on that is it’s all about customer service and that friendly face,” Stober said.

“You’re not going to get lost in a crowd shopping at a small business and I think that our small businesses in this area are totally driven where if it’s not right, it’s made right. You can’t get that on the internet and you can’t always get that at the big-box stores. It also allows you to get something that’s custom. A small store can make something that no one else has.”

Co-owner of Daniel’s Hobbies, 34 E. Main St., Rob Gornek said local shops help customers feel good about their purchases, knowing their helping their neighbors and themselves.

“I think it’s mostly important just because of how far your dollar goes,” he said. “It’s not necessarily you for an individual. You don’t just spend a $100 here to support a local business. You’re also employing people (who) live in the area (who) are going to spend money in their local economy. It’s just a revolving cycle.

“I understand need for online purchases, but at the same time we’re already starting to see a huge impact with that,” Gornek added.

“Stores are starting to go down. Big chains you never thought would leave are really being effected by it. That hurts the local economy and when the local economy gets hurt, those people start losing jobs. Are online sales going to be any better because of that? I don’t think so. It’s a trickle-down effect.”

Duncan had a similar thought.

“You’re helping local people,” she said. “It’s not just the business; you’re helping the city, you’re helping the township, you’re helping the county. Everything stays within us. Why wouldn’t you want to build up your own community? And by staying local that’s what we do.”

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