Last night, we were at the Blvd Market on Utah & El Cajon Blvd (every third Friday of the month 6-10p; fyi). Markets are usually sweet because of the vendors next to you. For 4-6 hours, you are near someone that typically understands the grueling pace of small business market life. We exchange stories and headaches, and overall express how tiring it all is. The gentleman next to us stated, “I just want to have a store and get it done with, but that takes money.”
It’s true, going market to market is physically exhausting and quite frankly, only enough for a business to scrape by financially. A lot of our market buddies think about a possible storefront in the future but now being here, there is a piece we certainly miss from keeping things simple. HQ has been a blessing but not without trial and what’s challenging is not just the long hours and trying to figure out the details of what it means to go from a tiny business to a small business, but its handling customers.
Take a peek at our latest YELP reviews and you’ll find some not so kind comments listed; 1 or 2 that are down right disrespectful so after working 12 hour shifts to keep the business alive while we wait on city planning – well those reviews are like a not so gentle punch in the face.
People are selfish.
Okay, I said it. They only care about what they want, what they think should be, and only see within that sphere. Yes Yes of course I’m not talking about everyone but you get my point. Once more, please remember their are owners behind a business – and owners ARE PEOPLE. All sorts of people – people with minimal food experience or a culinary degree, people that are simply wanting to try and “make it” – people that have rent to pay and feed families, people that need vacation and people like all people, that are controlling what they can but there’s so much more we do not have control over.
Point 1: I don’t think I can stop selfishness, but if we can all leave room for an opportunity to change and encourage; that would be best. Meaning, I’ve been to many many restaurants throughout North Park and had plenty of experiences where I didn’t like the food or the service or the atmosphere but I normally go back a few times, give them the opportunity to change my mind and I’d say most of the time they do. There of course is the minority that do not and I choose not to go back. If something is really bad, I ask for a manager. For some reason, people hate doing this. They’d rather hide behind their phone and post something online than talk to someone in person. But talking to a manager which also may be an owner gives opportunity for change. Last night, one of our consistent customers came back with her lemonade and said it doesn’t taste right. We immediately took it back and discovered, we forgot to add the sugar! It was all sour and tart and so we corrected it right away and thanked her for returning. If she would have just walked away unsatisfied; it wouldn’t have changed anything; talking face to face typically works out best for everyone.
Honestly, social media doesn’t help. It hypes things up or brings things down; there’s no moderation in social media.
Point 2: Bringing us back to the beginning; “it takes money” – yes it does but it also takes time. Our food cart was permitted a week ago now and we were trying to re-open on a minimal scale last week but the city visited and told us to change a few things on the cart. The health department has visited us 3x since we’ve been closed (to check on us)! With that, it has us on edge; we’re trying to play by the rules but the rules are complex and confusing. There are too many details to go into but basically, they will be visiting again this week to look at our little food cart which will only be open for business 3x a week until we can fully open. (I’ll give those details as to why later). Getting low YELP reviews because we’re not open is quite discouraging mainly because it’s an aspect we have no control over.
Oh well, thanks for listening. Maybe this is all too much thought about food and business but as owners, these are the things that surface daily. And even if no one understands, we will simply look forward to the next market as we work next to another vendor and we can glance over and know; “they understand me.”
Thanks to all that see a bigger picture in life and know that it does not revolve around you.