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What does your entryway say about you?

An entryway says so much about a building. It is space that is often overlooked, but sets the tone for what is ahead.

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Urban Indigo    Oakland, CA

What does yours say about you? It can tell us what type of business is in there. If it  is open or closed.

Is yours welcoming?  Does it tell a story? Spark the imagination? Tempt you?

An entryway can also be art. It can be so many things!

In Berthoud, Colorado a joint effort between the city, 11261827_1529547420689260_6503898361766391575_obusinesses and homeowners produced Entryways of Berthoud to showcase art and their community. They invited folks to submit photos of entryways and these were then turned into notecards and posters.

An entryway for a business has many functions and is an important part of the establishment itself.  It may act as the local bulletin board in a rural community, or set the tone of the business.

An entryway can provide a striking entrance with uses of color and architectural details. Or lead into a more formal atmosphere with more subdued touches.

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Chop & Wok Scottsdale, AZ

 

Similar to the beginning a chapter in a book, an entryway establishes a story that has yet to unfold.

An entryway is also a very affordable way to change a businesses dynamic.  It is a spot where risks can be taken, and even on a limited budget, have a remarkable effect.

img_8317Think about the places you frequent. How do they make you feel? Welcome? Not so much?

We like our homes to be welcoming and inviting. Our businesses should be too.

How can you use your entryway to enhance your business or community?

~Katy~

Katy is a rural and small town /small business speaker, consultant, advocate & writer.  She believes many small communities can grow from within using resources already at hand and creative strategies and leverage those to attract new families, businesses and customers.  Do you want Tait & Kate to come speak to your community or group? Email us at info@taitandkate.com

 

 

 

 

 

Welcome to town….. Now GO HOME!

Welcome to our town … NOW GO HOME?

Ever felt this way when visiting or thinking about relocating to a new rural community???

no outs“You’re not the first, nor will you be the last…

Small towns are not all sunshine and rainbows ~  there is a darker side.

Don’t get me wrong…. We WANT to LOVE the town we chose to live in or near.  We WANT to be a PART of the community. We WANT to grow old here and feel welcome. But really – how do you think we feel when we hear:

“We don’t need your kind of help!”

What kind, exactly, would that be? Can you be more specific than just a general shunning?

It takes people who are thinking of the future of their community and the impacts on its current residents as a whole, to embrace and welcome with open arms the “new” people.

“We” don’t expect you to become our BFFs or to involve us in every aspect of your life. But a simple “hello” at the gas station or a “How ya doing?” or “Can you help?” once in a while goes a long way to help new people become part of the community. Blatant silence when you’re standing 3 feet from us is poor manners, no matter where you live.

And I have lived all over the United States — much of it in smaller communities or very rural areas.  Many have been very welcoming of “outsiders,” some not so much.

I was recently in a sparsely populated town that desperately needs any new people it can get.  I was chatting with the economic development person – ED for short — and she relayed this story:

ED: “Did you deliver that WELCOME basket to XYZ family yet?”

Welcoming committee: “WHY should we?? They’re not going to stay anyway.”

Holy smokes! What??? Really???? 

This community was in the national news for its “unwelcome-ness” (read about it here: http://bismarcktribune.com/news/opinion/mailbag/small-towns-are-not-welcoming/article ; more links to this story at the bottom of the page).

I know this community. It directly mirrors my experience in the central part of the state.

Love us or hates us… play nice. Our kids are in the schools and we shop and eat here! WeFF2085-D-2 pay taxes that help keep social services in place – important services like ambulance and fire. We volunteer – at least we try to, when allowed — for events and clubs. We belong to the churches.  And when something bad happens, we are here for you.

Even so, would you believe several upstanding long-time residents have asked me:

If “hubb’s” passed away, you’d sell everything and move, right?”

Welcome to our town … NOW GO HOME. Ugh!

Another well-intentioned but unproductive statement came from the ED of a town in the center of the state:

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this is the message ‘outsiders’ get loud and clear.

We will never allow another business that competes in any way with XYZ — they are our biggest tax base. ”

 

I have seen it time and again, and it’s not easy for us either. Many of us offer to “divorce” or force the “local” to move away again. We withhold our monies from the community, quit volunteering, close businesses, or choose to not start them at all. Our attitudes and frustrations transfer to our children, making them less engaged in the town and far less likely to ever return. That’s a loss not just for us personally, but also for the community at large.

Many people who relocate or return to small towns come because they have some sort of ties. Others come looking for a quieter lifestyle or a new start.

Whatever the reason — remember that YOUR” town was NOT settled only by people who exclusively knew each other. Its original settlers tried to make it welcoming and accepting, and to help it grow and prosper.

We need to keep that pioneer spirit alive – for our own good and for the good of our communities.

~Katy~

Additional links: http://bismarcktribune.com/news/columnists/julie-fedorchak/how-welcoming-are-we/article_4f27a470-20b9-11df-ae85-001cc4c03286.html

http://bismarcktribune.com/news/state-and-regional/florida-family-gives-up-on-small-town-north-dakota/article_cc28bcda-1a87-11df-8d88-001cc4c03286.html

Katy is a writer and speaker with Tait & Kate ( http://www.taitandkate.com ) –   She believes in the good, and knows the bad and the ugly of small and rural community living and business and feels it’s important to share ALL the stories.  Tait & Kate will bring affordable solutions, fresh ideas, enthusiasm and a smidge of irreverent humor to your town or business.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

‘Shop local’ is not an entitlement!

The “Shop Local” movement is wonderful.  It has done so much and brought tons of awareness and added sales for so many businesses and communities, especially small & rural towns.

Having lived and traveled all over this great big United States, I have spent  much time in very small towns. Over the years- long before “shop local” and “shop small” became catch phrases, I noticed that a considerable amount of shop owners seem to think they are entitled to your business.

As a business owner, in any size community, it is your prerogative to ignore customers, treat them badly or carry shoddy merchandise.  You have choices. But when you do choose to treat your customers badly you have no right to expect them to patronize your business.

   Did you know it only takes a customer 7 seconds to form an opinion of your business??

Do not make the mistake that just because you may be the only such-and-such in xyz town, that the good folks have to shop with you.

    ~Nothing could be further from the truth~

UPS, FedX, USPS are our friends  along with Amazon, EBay & Etsy and a whole host of other options that are Not YOU.  There are neighboring towns or we may just chose to save our purchase for the next trip to the city and spend ALL of our dollars there.

People are not obligated to shop with you just because you have a business. You have to earn it.

But if you are friendly and helpful, even when you don’t have what we need, we will remember and patronize you regularly.

Try to remember that even in a small town, the people who live there do not owe you a living. It’s up to you to make us want to shop there. You have to earn it. And it will repay you ten-fold.

~Katy~

 

Let the kids have a seat at the big table! (Reasons to have teenagers on board)

There are a multitude of reasons WHY a community should have teenagers participating on the boards and councils. ~ But I will limit my self to just a few!

1) According to a University of Nebraska national survey of rural youths, 50% (that’s right folks! FIFTY PERCENT) WANT to return to their communities in the future.

That’s a fabulous number! Now what are YOU going to do with that information?

     What is your community to have to offer these returning ‘youngsters’ down the road?

RuralXTrio

Dylan, myself & Camden at the RuralX Summit

 

Jobs? Things to do? Places to hang out? Wi-Fi hot spots? Entertainment for new families? Buildings to start businesses in?

I would bet if you asked these youngsters what they would want to have, you would be surprised by their answers. If you let them, they will help you carve a new future for your community.

I met two extraordinary young men at the RuralX  conference in Aberdeen a couple weeks ago. They were the youngest attendees at 16 & 17 years old.  Both want to “come home” to Miller SD when they are done with school. Both want to open businesses.  Both want to be able to express their ideas now to council and desire to be a part later. They want  to listen  us and for us to listen to them.   Luckily, they live in a rural community that embraces young and old alike!

2) A vested interest in the community makes a difference. Most of the time it seems that my father’s community_gardengeneration is the last to truly be a vested part of a community at a young age.  Really think about that. For hundreds of years, people were expected to shoulder adult responsibilities and participate in community events at a young age.

When and Why did we stop expecting our children to be a part??

When these youth feel valued and a part of the community, they are more likely to participate and volunteer. They will readily step up and lead the charge for whatever task is at hand.

(I could name a number of communities where the youth are put on ignore. It doesn’t bode well for those particular towns future.)

You could coordinate with the school so these youth get credit for attending meetings and so on.

I believe this is doubly important in rural communities. Without a large population to draw from, we need to build from within.  Let them participate, share ideas and be a part.

Everybody wins.

3) Trust ~ Pretty simple, huh?

teenLet me give you an example;  You trust the local teenagers to be LIFEGUARDS at the pool, responsible for your children.  You have faith in their judgement that they will save a drowning child.

So why would you not trust their opinions or ideas?

Sure! Some of their ideas may be far fetched to us. But I am sure some  of ours were just as far fetched to our ‘elders’. But without the dreams and forward thinking and enthusiasim, rural communities will wither away.

So put a little trust in these kids and give them a seat at the big table.

Together we can make our communities better for all.

~Katy~

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A tale of 3 cities….My first adventure in small town advocacy

Okay- so maybe not quite “cities”…. Cope, Anton and Idalia  are technically listed as OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA“villages”

I happened to land in Cope in a quirky twist of fate… You see, many years ago, we bought acope4 001 café sight unseen on a handshake at a football game in Denver. That’s another story.

Cope had a population of 97. We helped grow it to 101.

Now, if you’ve ever lived in a very small rural community, you KNOW that revenue is hard to generate and so is entertainment.

We had the bright idea of starting “Café Racing”one summer.  We had a little go- cart, and cope4 001so did another family in Anton (pop 20) and another in Idalia (pop 115 +/- at the time)

So, we decided that to drum up business for each café in our towns,we would race around the café in Cope one weekend, and the other towns the following weeks… and then repeat.  ~you could call it ‘Redneck Revenue’~

It only lasted a few months, but it was fun and did what it was supposed to do.

~Yes~ our little homemade go carts were wildly unsafe… kids strapped in with old back braces screwed to plywood and borrowed bike helmets…. But we all made it safely  and the kids still talk about that summer.

Café Racing  was a lesson in cooperation and collaboration with other towns. It was the start of “could be’s” Which led to other adventures….and bright ideas

cope3 002

Part of the “Toasties” café crew ~ Carmen, Dale, Jens & me

 

Now I am using over 25 years of gained knowledge to help others get things started in their communities and learn to connect with neighboring towns.

~Katy~

 

5 things Salesmanship is- a sell is a sell part 4

When most people hear the word Salesmanship, they immediately associate it with that pushy salesman at the department store or car lot.

~That couldn’t be further from the truth~

Here are 5 things that Salesmanship is:

Salesmanship is “the art of enticing someone to buy, see or do what it is you are offering”  It doesn’t matter what you are doing, or what you are selling.  And it is indeed an art form.

Salesmanship is “sharing information and not being afraid to direct a customer to another store if you can not help them”. (more on this subject in another post)

Helping-Customer-620x480Salesmanship is more than knowing just what you carry in your store. It is also “knowing what the other stores have (not just the competition), and things to see and do in your area.

** Many years ago, when I was still in my teens, a wise woman told me that the more I knew  about what ‘we’ had and ways our customers could spend their time nearby, the more money I could earn on repeat business. **

HOW RIGHT SHE WAS!!

Salesmanship is “building relationships”  You don’t need to become best friends with your customers, but simply remembering (or keeping a cheat sheet) a name, or the fact that they golf, have kids etc… gives you a reason to give them a call and  remind them to return  “I remember you saying your son would be getting his license soon, Shall I start looking for a good used car for you?”  or at the market… “Hi John! How’s that swing coming? Why don’t you pop by the pro shop and we’ll try some new drivers”  ….”I heard you love waterskiing~ did you know there’s a great lake just right up the road?”

*People remember that you took the time to remember something about them no matter how trivial* and they WILL return to places where they feel wanted and welcome.

Salesmanship is “being awesome at the art of the subtle upsell”.  You don’t have to go over board. Simple statements work well.  In a small community market- remind your customers on Saturday afternoon that you are closed on Sunday and to get what ever theytumblr_nxrhq38DPX1rr65iwo1_1280 think they may need for Sunday BBQ.   At the department store- Instead of “you should get a tie to go with that shirt” try  “we have some new ties that would be very dashing with that shirt you picked out”

We’ll throw in a bonus here~

Salesmanship is “being a teacher”  a  part of salesmanship is educating the customer on your product or region (or whatever it is you have to Buy, See or Do)

 Do what you do so well, that they will want to see it again and bring their friends  ~Walt Disney~

Katy

Read more:  A sell is a sell. Period, ,  A sell is a sell – part 2  and

A sell is a sell -part 3 Looks matter

Read the rest of this entry

The last Pattern Maker~This is the story of US

A story of US. Of America. Of Small Business. Of Dreams. Of Passion. Of love of craft.

People who love their craft, live it every day.

I just saw this video today, and I was simply moved. Not by the memories of my Grammy who was a noted seamstress  in San Francisco, nor because I am also a creative type.

But because this grand lady, Chris Ellsberg, lives and loves her craft of pattern making. By ‘craft’ I do NOT mean ‘crafting’… It’s more like craftsmanship, or trade.

You see, Chris is a pattern maker. One of the last the United States.  It is an old trade. One that is difficult to master.

In her 80’s now, Chris strutted into Raleigh Denim Workshop   and volun-told  the owners, Victor & Sara, that she was going to work there. (Love her Moxie!!) For  FREE, until they could afford to pay her.

She has been passing on her knowledge and love of craft to a new generation.   It is thrilling to watch their story unfold.

I would love to meet them all! It sounds like they are a ‘family’ working at Raleigh Denim Workshop.

Helping each other to hold fast the dreams.

I am inspired. This story has so many lessons we can all learn from. Lessons about community, giving, teaching and inspiring. Of holding on and letting go.

It is much, much more than just a story of an old woman and a young couple.

~Katy~

 

 

5 reasons small towns should think regionally

It is  getting harder and harder for many small towns to hang on. State and federal funding is drying up, resources are disappearing and people have become complacent. By working together, small towns can revive themselves and head in a new direction.  Though there are  many, here are  my  reasons small towns should think regionally.

1-None of us are getting any younger. Things happen. Ask yourself What IF? What if you couldn’t just hop in the car and drive 50 miles to market?  Wouldn’t it be nice to walk down the street and grab a birthday card or a gallon of milk, or meet your friends for coffee? Or to just go the 10 miles to the neighboring town that has  what you need?

Ask yourself, If you couldn’t just drive into the city, is it a reasonable expectation to have your child or friend take an entire day off of work, come from the city to get you, take you back to the city to get that handful of items you had to have, and then drive you back home and head right back? That would be an entire day and over 200 miles of driving.

Just because you CAN drive in, doesn’t mean you need to or even want to. And we all know someone who really shouldn’t be behind the wheel to start with!

2-Shared resources.  One town has the lake, one the hospital, one has a huge yearly event , one a cafe, one the lake, one a motel. How can you use your neighbors resources to enhance your own? 

You could advertise your motel at the same time the next town is having AppleFritter Days. 2205027805

The tiny town of Aladdin, WY (population 15!) has a 100 year old store. And that’s it.  Aladdin is 20 miles from Belle Fourche SD.  They have built their  business around tourism to Belle Fourche and Sturgis and Devils Tower. Aladdin uses the simple 20140628_123515principle of Buy, See & Do to capture their audience. Aladdin uses the nearby towns  resource of people, hotels and more.

If a town of only 15 people can do it, so can you!

3-Events~ events draw people from all over. Take advantage of it. Even tiny events provide an abundance of trickle down economics. When they drive to your town, people will stop to fill their tanks before leaving, they will spend money in your café, gift shop, roadside stands, etc.

It doesn’t matter if you have a cartwheel contest, a parade, a farmers market or some huge event. Just do something. Once people know that your community has events, they will spread the word bringing more people the next time.

4-Small towns are inter-connected by family ties. Most everyone who lives in small towns is connected to other nearby communities by family. This means traveling back and forth. Shared knowledge and histories. Capitalize on it.

Make a traveling history exhibit featuring the townspeople, host a Cousins Day or something else crazy.

When Aunt Dorothy comes to your town for  little Jr’s birthday party, dimes to dollars she will stop at the local store  to grab a gift or a bottle of wine.. Just like when you go to that pot-luck  the next town over, you’ll probably stop in their market and get some of that potato salad to take with you.

5-Small business succeeds. When a small town thinks outside of its borders, businesses grow and thrive. By sharing  and collaborating with other nearby communities, you grow your customer base.

When you grow your base, more people hear about you.  The more they hear about you, the more excited they get to find out what’s new in your community.  With more people coming to town, the more the possibility of a business being able to expand or hire someone or for a new business to start.  How exciting would that be?

What ideas do YOU have to think regionally?

~Katy~

 

 

Praire Palaces = Opportunity

(Property owners name withheld  on request)

On occasion I drive by “Betty’s” place NE of Washburn.

Every time I think  two things immediately.

1) WOW! I want to stay there!  

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possibilities 1/2 mile from town!

 

2) WOW! The income potential.

It really is  quite a marvelous place for her family to get away to.  These converted grain bins  are actually sleeping rooms (2 are storage) and the Quonset has a livingroom, bathroom and kitchen.   ~The family meets up here for a week or so every year.  There are no other buildings on their land.

I often think what a simple concept! Primitive camping with nature right at your fingertips- but ‘town’ right down the road. Or a great for seasonal Craft selling or farm market. The novelty of the painted buildings would make me stop  in a second driving by!

We live in a very rural community. What a draw this could be for any small community! Think of the possibilities.  Quick weekend get-aways, retreats, family reunions, bird watching, star gazing etc.

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The color draws me in!

It’s quirky, fun, interesting and draws you in.  It immerses you in the country in a way that being in a hotel can’t.

 

WHO would be your customers? and WHY are they your costumers? 

Well, me for one. As someone who frequently traveled cross country with the boys, a place to run and shout in the country would have been my first stop! Photographers, wild life viewers, hunters, crafters, history buffs, picnickers, day campers – all manner of people.

Now I know, most of us have seen great converted grain bin ‘houses’ or farm dwellings used for major events.  But this, on a most base level has oooodles of easily do-able possibilities without as much upfront capital.  Just a little sweat and imagination.bin

Want windows? Scavenge some from old buildings. Want to add a porch? Again, use salvaged lumber or bricks.

You are only limited by your imagination.

As a Primitive experience, you wouldn’t need to provide all manner of luxuries. Primitive means just that. A bed. Maybe an outdoor BBQ or fire pit. If you wanted to- a solar shower and out-house or inciner-loo would do.  You could easily offer a booklet detailing the best nearby places for scenery, bird watching, great food, places of interest and  local history. It would be easy enough to partner with the local café or bakery to provide boxed lunches/dinners or baked goods.

Also as a primitive experience, you may not be as subject to the same stringent standards as a ‘hotel’ would be. (Definitely  something to check on, though)

Remember- Your great grain bins or other buildings don’t have to be on a farm! You can be on the edge of town, or by the park, or maybe you have an extra large lot… Again- imagination.

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What could YOU dream up?

 

Most states  have an Agri-Tourism department. They may  provide property signage, can help you decide what type of insurance is best. (Many farm policies already have a rider for  ‘guests’) and other aspects of your new business.

 

Agri-Tourism is a very sustainable, viable income. The USDA also has grants and low cost loans available. Many communities have Micro-loan programs to help you on your way.  You can also list for FREE you great Agri-tourism place on many sites such as : http://www.agritourismworld.com/ that let’s you list by state.

Here are some great links to get you started:

http://www.uvm.edu/tourismresearch/agritourism/saregrant/getting_started_agritourism_cornellext.pdf

http://www.ndtourism.com/articles/north-dakota-agritourism#whatisagritourism

http://oklahomaagritourism.com/

 

~Katy~

 

 

 

 

A sell is a sell- Part 3-Looks Matter

A sell is a sell. Period.

Yes! Your looks matter.

It’s a fact. Male or female, it doesn’t matter.  We’re not talking Fredericks of Hollywood sexy… just tasteful.

curvy lady

Classy not Trashy

You don’t have to be a super model.  Tall or short, thick or thin. Simply looking your best at work makes all the difference in the world in how people perceive you.

men in jeansPretty simple- Classy not Trashy.   No need to let it all hang out.  That goes for you too fellas.   You both  can wear business attire or jeans and still look classy.

Grammy always said at least have your hair combed, lipstick on and clean clothes. You know what? She’s right.

~Katy~

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