I love locally owned businesses.
It’s not that I don’t shop at the big box and national chain stores; I do.
But if I have the opportunity to do business with a locally owned store, where I can get the same or similar product at roughly the same cost, or even a little more, I’ll choose the local merchant every time.
It was just such an occasion Thursday when I went on a frantic hunt for a tuxedo to wear to the University of Mary Candlelight Gala.
The invitation said “Black Tie Preferred” so being the new guy in town, and not wanting to embarrass or disappoint the people who had invited me, I needed a tux.
When I packed my clothes to come to Bismarck, prior to actually getting moved, a tux wasn’t on my top 10 clothing items to pack.
I Googled tuxedo rentals and got a few responses so I headed to a familiar national retailer.
It turns out that a lot of folks needed tuxes for this event and this store doesn’t actually stock them so I was out of luck.
I bought a couple of small items and asked them if they could direct me to another pace where I might find a tux. They did not know.
So I again did the search with slightly different search terms and Hansen’s Mens Wear popped up.
Within 15 minutes I had not only driven over to Hansen’s, but Barry Hansen had found a tux, shirt, bow tie and cumberbund in my size.
And like all good salespeople, he asked if I would like to just go ahead and buy it because the sale price was just double the rental price.
I appreciate a good upsell. Sure, why would I not buy it when I could pay for it with two rentals, and the one I had back in Pennsylvania was not that nice?
But then I dropped the bomb on him. “I need this tomorrow night for an event,” I said, expecting him to say I was out of luck.
Instead, he said, “I can have this ready for you in 15 minutes, I do the alterations myself.” We had a deal.
Barry told me his dad started the business about 40 years ago and he returned from college and joined the business 38 years ago. His years in the business allowed him to “size” me without a tape measure. I was impressed.
Barry said he found a real niche with his big-and-tall clothing line. And that, too, is unique to a locally owned business. They can make their own decisions about how they can better serve their customers.
Small business is the lifeblood of a community and I am thankful for people like Barry Hansen who commit to providing much-needed products and services to our community.