The food industry is a huge part of a community. In Alliance, there are a variety of locally owned, small restaurants/food services that will benefit from peoples’ support more than the competing chain restaurants down the street.
Brenda Schrum is the owner of Brenda’s Cottage, a local coffee shop that opened around February of 2021. Over the past year of running a business, Schrum has learned many things. She said, “Running a small business in a small town has huge advantages, at least for me! I know just about everyone who walks in, which makes [the atmosphere] very comfortable. I also know when people are from out of town or just fairly new to the community.”
Even though small business owners try to make their business feel “like home” to customers, competing chain restaurants seem like they would be more appealing to customers, just because of the brand name. But according to Schrum, “I opened my coffeehouse after Scooters and Starbucks came to town. I have never been worried about their existence [because] I have a hometown advantage. [I know] the families in our community.” She also doesn’t feel like these chain businesses are hurting her business. “The way I run my business is totally different [than a chain business.] After all, we are the same type of restaurant, but different kind of business,” said Schrum.
What Schrum means is that even though her coffeehouse and Scooters both sell coffee, the economic side of the business is very different. “As a small business owner, I rely on as much local money coming in as possible. This may make or break a business. It isn’t easy to operate a business, large or small but us small businesses feel [economic hurt] the most when times are tough.” Most of the time, it is small businesses that sponsor school functions and activities. That is why it is important for us, as consumers, to support small businesses within our community. “I really feel like more people in our community need to support our smaller businesses. If we can, we like to promote, sponsor and advocate for local events within the community, but we aren’t able to do that if we don’t have the business first.” Without these small restaurants and businesses alike, the economy of Alliance would be substantially different.
So even though it might be faster to swing through the Scooter’s drive-through on the way to work, leave earlier that morning and go to Brenda’s Cottage or Newberry’s for a coffee, and maybe a nice conversation. “Brenda’s Cottage is a small old house that has been converted into a coffeehouse. The foundation, walls and roof all have a story to tell. The cottage has a small-town attitude with love and respect to all who enter,” said Schrum when describing her business. It is impossible to describe Scooters or Starbucks in the same way because they just lack a homey, cozy feeling.
Local restaurants, such as Ken and Dales and El Ramo, are also always giving to the community, so it is important that we support them back. Spend the extra dollar, drive the extra mile or wake up a minute earlier to support a local business, because, in the end, they are the backbone of a small community.