Do everything as local as possible

I try to do business locally although it’s not always possible. Still, when it is, I do it, and I will give you four examples that will explain, I hope, why.

Now the examples I will give you are about specific businesses and I am not telling you about them because I expect you to do business with them. Rather, I’m hoping that you, too, have businesses that act toward you, and treat you, the way these four businesses treat me or, rather, us, because my wife is involved in this, too.

The first is Atech Automotive which is right up the street from The Cabinet and where we started doing business because it was so convenient because we could drop off a car and go to work and then pick up the car and go home and even in terrible weather, we didn’t mind because it only took a couple of minutes to walk up the street.

Elderly cars

We have been bring our cars – my 1991 Volvo, now, and prior to that my 1987 Volvo, and Kathy’s 1998 Buick – there for several years.

So, one day I drove the ‘91 past Atech on my way home from doing something uneventful because I don’t remember what it was. A few minutes after I got home, Kathy called from The Cabinet and said:

“Mark Brown just called.”

Mark Brown owns Atech and I asked what he wanted and Kathy said:

“He saw you driving past and said you’ve got a light out on the rear of your car.”

So I called Mark and I said:

“So, what? You stand out front every day and look for people with defective tail lights and then call their wives? What kind of riff is that?”

Anyway, the next day I brought the car in and Mark fixed it and that’s fine, but the point is this:

He saw the problem, knew who had the problem, knew who to call and cared enough to do it. Oh, sure, you could, were you a cynic, say he was just trolling for business but I don’t buy that because it wasn’t the first time Mark came to the rescue.

Lights out

One day, in the middle of a snow storm, I saw I had a tail light out in my ‘87 and, while I usually don’t care, I had to lend the car to my daughter the next day and I don’t lend cars to Sara unless everything works, so I called Mark and asked him to fit me in that day and he did.

Now that’s important to me because I have a tendency to put off things like car tail lights, including the one Mark spotted on the ‘91. Yeah, I knew it was out but I was ignoring it in the, of course, vain hope that it would fix itself but Mark calling Kathy got me to fix it and that’s important because, given that my daughter also has a ‘91 Volvo, who knows when she might need my car again because who knows when her’s might have a problem so … Well, you get it.

Now, another local firm with which I do business is Ciardelli Fuel, of Milford. I’ve called them on at least two occasions with problems, once really early on a Saturday morning, and they’ve always gotten somebody out quickly.

Last week, I had an appointment for a technician to check out my furnace and he arrived in the afternoon but instead of heading to the basement, he said, and here I paraphrase, that maybe we should postpone this because, he guessed, my basement was probably wet from melting snow and the recent rain and he didn’t want to get his boots all muddy and then track up the house.

I said, “Yeah, but you came all the way out.”

But he didn’t mind. He cared more about tracking up our house than his inconvenience.

Which made me feel even more guilty for not having been around enough this winter to shovel a path through the snow for the Ciardelli delivery guy to get from the road to the thingy to which he connects the hose thingy to pump in the heating oil. I always try to shovel a path but this year, I was just away at the wrong time and the poor delivery guy had to tromp through a lot of snow.

Return engagement

But he still cared enough about tracking up our house to say he’d come back again, at a less-wet time.

Then there’s Brennan & MacKay, the company on South Street in Milford from which we buy all of our appliances – dishwasher, washing machine, dryer – and a company that, whenever we have a problem, is, BAM, there to fix it.

I always feel, with them, as I do with Atech and Ciardelli, that if I have a problem, they’re going to help me out pretty darn quickly.

I can say the same for my plumber, Bob Bragdon, of Wilton who, during the 2008 ice storm, brought me a generator, hooked it up, and sent his son over every day to make sure it was still running. And recently, when I had a frozen pipe, I called him in a panic and he, and his wife, came and dealt with it very quickly.

Now I tell you this not to encourage you to, necessarily, use these particular firms but to encourage you to find local firms that will make you feel as comfortable as we do with these four, firms that you not only trust (that goes without saying, really, although I said it anyway) but firms that, in a pinch, will fit you into their schedules because you either have a VERY serious problem or, as is often the case with me, you’re just in panic mode.

Find them

And they are out there, in Milford and Amherst and you can find them and it’s doubly good because when you find them, it’s good for you and, of course, good for them and that makes it good for the local economy which is good for all of us.

Now you might think that, well, heck, with things like that, you have to do business locally. An Internet firm can’t fix your car. And you’d be right.

BUT …

The fact that Atech and Ciardelli and Brennan & MacKay have come through for me so many times encourages me – us, really – to do other things locally, like go to antique shops or book stores or any other kind of store that, locally, has something we need.

Because we think, I guess, that there are Mark Browns and Heather Ciardellis and Tom Brennans and Bob Bragdons in every shop in our towns.

Michael Cleveland was editor of The Cabinet for more than 12 years.