Changes Outside of Our Control

This describes our new home, now that we are settled in and have made it ours. This sentiment is a card given to us by a good friend/family member, MoMo. 

I have experienced a lot of change recently, the most impactful being the sale of our home and moving into a much smaller home in a neighborhood somewhat removed from our local haunts. While I resisted that change for quite a while, I knew it was the right thing to do. Now that it is behind us, we are settling in, and actually enjoying some things about our new experience. More about that at another time.

There are a couple of impending changes that I would like to resist, but it would do no good to try to do so. These changes are totally outside of my control. Both of them involve businesses of which I have been a long-time customer. Both have a loyal customer base, or at least, it appears that they do. But loyal customers can’t keep these businesses alive. The decision to close these businesses has been made at a corporate level, and likely for financial reasons. That is more obvious with one of the businesses, and somewhat of an assumption with the other. I will miss them both.

The first business to close in our area is Tuesday Morning, a discount store that sells mainly upscale housewares, mostly close-outs from other retailers. Tuesday Morning will not close all of its stores, not even all of its NC stores, but all of their stores in my area will close, and soon. The retail company filed for bankruptcy recently and announced the closing of more than half of its stores nationwide. I will miss my occasional visits to these stores and will certainly look for open Tuesday Morning stores in other locations when I am traveling.  

While I am somewhat removed from Tuesday Morning, not knowing any of its owners, that is not the case with the other business that is closing. The other business to close soon is a restaurant/bar, Sawmill Tap Room, which has been our local Cheers, where the staff knows and loves you, and always makes you feel welcome. Mike and I were at Sawmill Tap Room the first day they were open, twenty-three years ago. We even knew the owners before they opened Sawmill, when they worked at and managed 42nd Street Oyster Bar, and took great care of Mike and the business groups he frequently took there. Our family Thanksgiving celebrations started at Sawmill on the first night of our three-day events for most of our thirty-four years of gathering. Eating at Sawmill is like eating with family.  

Sawmill Tap Room did not plan to close, but the landlord obviously has other plans and refused to renew their lease; no reason was given. While there is wailing and gnashing of teeth from its loyal customer base, Sawmill is slated to close at the end of May. There is talk of perhaps opening in another location, which would be a change, but not the death blow that is felt now. Since we have moved out of the neighborhood, Sawmill opening in another location could be of benefit to us, depending on where that new location is. Whether Sawmill will open in another location remains to be seen. Between now and the end of May, Mike and I and others we know plan to try to visit Sawmill at least once a week. For old times’ sake.

What are the lessons in these changes? There are several. First, and perhaps most important, it is important to know whether an impending change is within our control, or outside of it. If it is outside of our control, we should not waste physical or emotional energy trying to resist it. Just move with it.

Second, we should loyally support the businesses that we frequent, with our dollars and our presence. We should help them stay alive financially. I tried to do this with Belk, which was my favorite local department store, until they shifted their merchandise from brands I love to brands I do not even like, much less love. I am now quite an infrequent shopper at Belk. I predict this major retailer with a long NC history will find itself on the chopping block in the near future.

The final lesson in these changes is that cash is king, and profit is more important than sales. A business that doesn’t have cash left over that can be reinvested in capital and growth will not survive. Hard times will come, and when they do, it is important to have a surplus to weather the storms. If COVID did not teach us this, its lessons were wasted.

I wonder when our government will figure this out. Perhaps even more importantly, when will we figure this out?

About Patti Fralix

Patti Fralix inspires positive change in work, life, and family through Speaking, Consulting, and Coaching in three specialty areas: Leadership, Managing Differences, and Customer Service. Her leadership firm, The Fralix Group, Inc., has been helping clients achieve practical and tangible results for twenty-two years.
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