I like this story for several reasons. First, it shows people finding creative solutions to a problem. Second, it demonstrates the power and centrality of community in commerce. Finally, it gets us back to business at a human scale.
Faced with a challenge - nowhere to buy underwear without driving 50 miles - the good citizens of Saranac Lake invested in themselves. They didn't wait for an outside megastore to come in and save them. In fact, when Wal-Mart explored the idea of moving into the area, they were rebuffed. People chose a creative, entrepreneurial track, taking their destinies into their own hands.
Global corporations have deep pockets to promote their "brand", they can hire local people and provide support for community events, but they are never really "of the community". They are visitors, investors who hope to benefit from their local affiliation. A community resource puts community before profits. It is there to serve the community rather than seeing community service as good PR in the service of maximizing profits. Profits will follow for an organization that provides a needed service, but maximizing profit at the expense of a community doesn’t make a business “better”, just richer. With principled, skilled leadership, the new Community Store could be a model for other communities around the country.
I'm not suggesting that all business has to be small and local. I am saying that a small business that provides a needed service and grows from within the community knows that serving the community is essential to its survival. Such enterprises are more likely to be responsive, responsible and resilient. It's how early capitalism looked, before the evolution of massive, global enterprises. It's finding a positive path to profits without negative exploitation. Perhaps the future of business can be found in its past. Nothing wrong with that! http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/businesstechnology/2016756087_saranac14.html