I admire people who run their own retail business. It takes a lot of courage, not to mention a decent amount of money and know-how, to hang a sign on a storefront and invite the world in to judge your wares or service. You can’t have thin skin, and you can’t plan on being an overnight success.
Consumer tastes are fickle, of course, and cultural trends point to more and more goods and even services being sold via the internet. Who would have thought just a few years ago that we’d now shop for groceries, cars, homes, legal documents, and flowers online? That was long after buying computers, clothing, books, and recorded music became predominantly digital transactions.
And yet people still open boutiques, shops, food markets, and law firms in neighborhoods across Greater Cincinnati. Or they keep second- and third-generation family businesses afloat by innovating and staying relevant. I’m as fascinated by why they do it as I am by how.
You can’t paint all retail business owners with too broad a brush, but entrepreneurs just seem to be wired differently. They want to solve problems and beat competitors in a very hands-on way, not from the safety (and relative anonymity) of a corporate office. They thrive on personal connections with customers, and they love a challenge. They’re risk-takers.
Once a year I facilitate an entrepreneurship program called CO.STARTERS that’s geared to creative folks who essentially want to turn a talent or passion into a business. Think artists who want to make a living selling their work, opening a wedding photography studio, or launching an educational nonprofit. I help them understand the financial, legal, and research steps necessary to even get to the starting line, and I’m always impressed by how many show up with a gleam in their eye and a determination to succeed.
Our “Shop the Queen City” package celebrates 70-plus retail businesses across the region, but we could have easily highlighted twice the number given the swell of entrepreneurship sweeping Cincinnati. The next time you’re in their neighborhoods, stop in and say hi. And buy something.