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“I still enjoy it. I don’t know what I would do if I didn’t come down here to the store every day. Owning this business gives me a lot of independence to connect


with customers.” Henry Smith, owner of Beggs General Store in Beggs, Okla.


“There are a lot more changes we could do to improve the store, but we’re doing all that we can do,” Linda says. “Many people in town don’t drive, and I worry about how they would make it if we closed.”


Small town businesses like Hutch’s Country Market are important to rural sustainability, a critical lifeline that can prevent communities from fading away completely.


“If you understand who your customers are and who is paying the bills, you gain a lot of respect for those who choose your business over a larger chain store,” says Joe Coy, owner of Roy’s Cardinal Foods in Wilburton. Coy’s store sits right across the street from a larger competitor, so he spends much of his time researching market trends to offer his customers the best prices possible. For nearly 45 years, he has owned this cornerstone business in Wilburton, and he doesn’t plan on giving it up any time soon.


“I love what I do, and I’ve got the best bunch of employees anyone could ask for,” he says. “It’s an honor to serve people for all these years. I know 90 percent of my customers by name, and my son will too when he takes over someday.” Roy’s Cardinal Foods, Hutch’s Country Market and Beggs General Store are among a small but dedicated group of businesses that face some pretty tough corporate competitors. Independent grocers might not be known for their rock-bottom prices or endless selections, but that’s not why customers shop local. Friendly faces, simple conve- nience and the opportunity to support neighbors are what small town business is all about—not only on Small Business Saturday but every other day of the year.


16 WWW.OK-LIVING.COOP


Henry Smith is the longtime owner of Beggs General Store in Beggs, Okla. Photo by Gail Banzet-Ellis


Small Business Saturday November 30, 2013


Small Business Saturday is a day dedicated to the support of local, small businesses across the country. Created by American Express in 2010, shoppers are encouraged to shop small every year on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. This special day has grown into a movement that millions of individuals, businesses and communities have embraced nation- wide. In 2012, Small Business Saturday generated estimated consumer spending of $5.5 billion.


Learn more about shopping small, rallying your neighborhood for the cause and preparing your business for the event all at https://www. americanexpress.com/us/small-business/Shop-Small/.


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