Note: This is the opinion of the writer and not necessarily of the Kentucky New Era. Let the community know your opinion about this topic and others by submitting a "Letter to the editor."

This Christmas season has been a bit challenging. Three weeks before Superlawn was scheduled to receive our annual Christmas tree shipment, our supplier of 15 years, called to say he would not be able to provide any trees this year. The reasons why are irrelevant. I am sure he is in as much shock as we were at the moment.

We instantly begin calling (over 100 suppliers at last count) to growers all across the country from Oregon to Maine. We were finally able to find a grower in Maryland that would stay on the phone long enough for us to explain our situation. Fortunately, we confirmed that they had availability.

We had long discussions about whether it was financially worth the drive, will the customers understand if we have to increase the price and will the selection -- which was limited at this late date -- be what customers want.

There is also a classic case of "domino effect" that began when we started considering to not provide Christmas trees. We had planned an advertisement in the local newspaper, The Kentucky New Era. If we didn't have trees, and we didn't have an open house, we were going to cancel our newspaper ad. That created a problem for the paper, in that we were leaving them hanging without an advertiser for a very big holiday edition on the very day they were to go to print. Not to mention the salesperson that worked so hard to help us create the ad had spent hours with us for nothing. We also started counting the number of customers that had already called and asked when "their" trees would arrive. Not to mention the additional vendors that had planned on being at the open house event. We felt that we could not do to the customers, vendors and newspapers what had been done to us.

After much deliberation about the pros and possible cons we choose to bite the bullet. We spent one entire day reworking the 14-foot trailer, adding a platform and sides in order to haul the trees, reorganized and planned additional work for the crews that would remain behind while we began the 11-hour drive to pick up Christmas joy, in the form of wreaths, garland and trees, and bring it to Hopkinsville.

There are small businesses all across our community and country that are having those same conversations and making those same decisions. Small businesses are always attempting to fulfill a need that is missing in the community. Whether it is a restaurant, newspaper, gift shop, repair business, radio station, hair salon, the list is long. Our locally owned small businesses grow out of the love of our community and providing products and services that purchaser need, want and may not have access to without driving hours away. We employ individuals that live, shop and make purchases in our community. Small businesses are the sponsor names you see on the back of basketball, football and soccer jerseys of our youth all across the county. They are the first to be asked for a local donation or for a door prize for a raffle. They are the people that you go to church with, you see at the movies and that provide a smile, handshake and pat on the back when you and your family has a success or a disaster. Small businesses are often the first to stick their necks out, in hopes that the community will not chop it off.

When your favorite business increases prices, know that there were many factors that went into that decision. While small business owners are "in" this to make money and hopefully a living. We aren't expecting to become wealthy overnight. We have the same basic needs and desires as everyone else. We want to retire, vacation, afford health care and keep the lights on. We mostly love what we do, and we love the customers that we do it for.

Thank you to all of the small business customers that take the time to seek us and other "mom and pop" businesses out and are patient and supportive of our mission. We hope you make efforts to shop local and shop small business this holiday season and every day. We look forward to seeing current, and hopefully new customers, at our Christmas Open House on Saturday, November 30th! Watch for our ad in the Kentucky New Era and listen for our radio ads on your local radio stations.

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