Find Friendly Merchants in Florence

By Sandy Dale

It has been my privilege to be a self-employed artist most of my life.  For the last two weeks I have been painting a mural with my artist friend Ed Penner at the Pour House in Florence.  Going to paint and hang out on the scaffolding everyday gave me an interesting perspective of the successful life of an owner-operated business.

Every morning as we came in the door of the Pour House, we’d be greeted by a pleasant “hi” from Kenny the owner and barista behind the counter.  I knew he had been there since four or five that morning getting ready for the day.  Baking quiche or scones, finishing up the labeling of the coffee beans he roasts himself, putting out the goodies in the case, and doing the million odd jobs required to keep a coffee shop going.

I am reminded of how many of the shops in Florence are owner-operated with many of the business owners also owning their buildings.  This is a huge investment of money, time, and optimism.   It isn’t just showing up for work each day.  It’s managing employees, cleaning, going to merchants’ meetings, keeping stock current, bookkeeping, etc.  Exhausting, you say?

Maybe, but the perks far exceed the drudgery.  In most cases, these folks are living their dream.  Some have even “retired” here to have their own business.  They have only themselves to answer to for the failures.  But they have themselves to congratulate when the business thrives and runs smoothly.  Being your own boss is definitely a challenge, but at the end of the day it is its own reward.

What I find shopping, dining, and living in Florence, is the pride of ownership.  It shows in the greetings of the folks behind the counters, the “how can I help you” shouted from somewhere in the back of the store.  The great conversations between customer and clerk about the Polish pottery or the war medal in the case.  The restaurant owners are in the kitchen or behind the counter making sure the food is great and the kitchen is running smoothly.  This is not the experience you or I have at big box stores or fast food restaurants.  I am very blessed and quite spoiled by living in this quaint little town of Florence.

Come check this out for yourself.  Find the pride of ownership reflected in the greetings, smiles and service of Florence merchants.

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