The other week when a regular customer heard that we were opening up a second store, he expressed a word of caution. He said that many businesses fail when they expand to a second store.
I am quite conservative when it comes to business. I take a slow and steady path, and that path is not leading to financial windfalls, or a certain return on investment. I am looking to make the business financially sustainable – that is, not losing money, and making enough that we can weather slow months (the summer months).
This second store is being financed by a loan of $300,000 from the Social Enterprise Fund. Earth’s General Store is the first ‘for-profit’ business they have provided financial support to, but they recognize the social benefits and involvement that the store represents. It was VERY flattering that I did not have to ‘sell’ them on this aspect since our reputation preceded us, and we were recognized as a social enterprise business.
Recently, I mentioned to Tammy (manager and good friend) that I was not a ‘businessman’ but a citizen that operates a business. Most business people usually conducts business to create personal wealth or enrich the business. I want to create a positive shift in the world, and I have chosen to do so via a business model. I did not know what I was doing from a ‘business’ perspective, and on paper it probably didn’t work, but I wanted to provide a different business model and goal to the citizens of Edmonton.
I am not looking for personal riches, but rather getting ‘paid’ by what good I can bring to communities and the planet.
That being said – Earth’s General Store still needs to operate with basic business operations: items are chosen within the parameters of my beliefs (certified organic, local when possible, Fair Trade, respectful, etc.); purchased; displayed at a fair price (where the producers are paid a fair price, the customers pay a fair price, and the store makes a fair ‘profit’); suppliers, tradespeople and landlords paid promptly; staff are paid (a fair wage and above comparable industry standards).
We look like a store, we smell like a store, we operate like a store, but we are more than a store. The business is just our vehicle to promote a healthier, more balanced, and more respectful way of operating in the world.
I am blessed that so many people want to be involved in this journey – staff and customers.