Last week we explored the story of Building No. 1 in rural America. This building was historic, and these new owners were ready and willing to invest, but the naysayers and the know-it-alls pulled them down, and they are stymied with fear. Since we last spoke the building has gone up for sale, and our couple has moved on to pursue other dreams.
So now let’s look at Building No.2
Building No. 2 is slightly older. Built in 1860, this little gem has sat vacant for far longer, over a decade. It is worse for ware, and potential buyers have been few and far between.
A new family moved to town, and they fell in love with the location and architecture and want to bring this building back to something special. They envision a space where arts and culture meet, shopping can be done, and coffee can be sipped. This is their dream, their money, and they are ready to take it on.
They buy her!
Like our previous couple, they begin talking about their plans. The community is overwhelmingly supportive. They listen to the family’s vision, offer words of encouragement, and sometimes even a helping hand.
They give shout-outs on social media as the family progresses with their plans. The naysayers still exist, but the support overshadows them tenfold.
This time, the letters to the editor are words of thanks. The community understands what a risk this family is taking. The financial investment that is required to bring a blighted structure back from the brink. The family feels secure that they are doing the right thing and hopeful that the community can and will give them support as they move along.
Six months into the project, progress is being made. As people drive by, they shout things like “Thank you!”, “It’s looking great!”, “I can’t wait to see it finished!”
The family knows that stylistically the building will probably not be everyone’s “cup of tea”. But, that’s okay; it's their cup of tea. It’s a place this family can proudly return to every day and continue to give their best to their building, business, and community.
Two years have passed, and the family’s business has been open for a month now. They are experiencing their first Christmas season as business owners, and while they are still in a rocky place financially, they are encouraged that the community is stopping in their business first before heading out of town to do their holiday shopping. Just knowing that, even though customers may not find what they need there, at least they are giving them the opportunity to be where community dollars are spent first.
Why did Building No. 1 stagnate, while Building No. 2 flourished? Community support.
Simple as that. One of the building owners didn’t have more money, fortitude, or determination than the other. Building No. 2’s community knew that they needed to set their personal opinions and tastes aside, and give the people making the hard investment the support and chance to do it right. For them.
Why are talking about this? Well, because our community can be both of these scenarios at times. And as you interact with our entrepreneurs, I ask you to check yourself. Is the feedback and communication you are giving supportive and worthy of the investment these people are making? Is it going to “fill their buckets” or drain them?
Please be positive. Please be encouraging. And, mostly, please be aware of the tremendous, monumental, overwhelming, and terrifying thing it is to invest in a building and/or a new business in rural America. And, remember what momma used to say, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.”
Our entrepreneurs will thank you.