Friday, December 7, 2012

Perry's Joint

One of the first places that I visited on my endeavor to walk the Pacific Crest Trail in order to raise awareness for the need for an an organization to help small businesses compete and thrive in the world dominated by the corporatism cartel was Perry's Joint. Perry's Joint is a coffee shop in Atladena, California that has been in business for 8 years. Perry came from a family with a rich small business background; his parents were small business owners, and as he worked in his younger years, he saw the value of being in business for himself. Perry also knew that small business are the lifeblood of communities everywhere, and by starting a local business that keeps money in his local economy, he could improve the lives of his neighbors. So he set out to start his own business. However, starting a coffee shop was not easy. He has had to compete with businesses like Starbucks, huge tax burdens just to hire people, and the financial downturn of 2008 were serious problems that would put many other small business under. From dealing with these things, he has many insights to share.

Surviving economic downtowns is hard. When the Great Recession of 2008 occurred, the price of the things he needed for his business to function went up, while his sales went down; people just did not have the disposable income for his goods. This caused him to have to make choices he would rather not have had to make. He had to lay of workers, and could not do the normal things he needed to do to maintain his business. The worker's he had to lay off could not contribute to the local economy anymore, and so that affected other businesses. He himself could not afford to do the maintenance that his business required, and the local businesses that did those services felt the impact of that, too. This is the true price of financial collapses, and, as can be seen, it starts a viscous cycle.

Competition with larger entities like Starbuck's is hard. They have the benefit of economies of scale that small businesses do not have, and they have access to financial tools that small businesses do not have in order to weather economic downturns, although they too are affected. Additionally, with enormous advertising budgets, these entities get a huge portion of the market share.

So, for businesses like Perry's, just surviving is a challenge that requires an amazing amount of resiliency. So how does he do it, and what things would make it easier for him? Well, first he learned that he had to rely on other small businesses in his local economy. While I was speaking to him about what I was going to put in this entry, a mother and her daughter walked in carrying a cardboard box full of fruits and vegetables. They were bringing him his order of goods from the garden that is cultivated by the students at John Muir High School. He told me he wanted to support what they were doing, and by purchasing these goods from them, he could help them to continue what they were doing, and also make local salads and entrees for his customers. He also knows that his ability to interact with his local customer base through good service leads to repeat customers, and that tomorrow the money he spent on the produce might come back to him when the money that the local garden ends up in the hands of one of his customers. It was no surprise then when he said that he was very impressed as a child growing up in the Bernal Heights area of San Francisco at their local currency system, a system he thinks would be a huge boon today. Also, because of these things, he has some insights into common sense solutions that will make the life of local business owners easier and allow them to pump more wealth into local economies for the benefit of all.

So, I then asked him what type of things he would like to see that would make being a small business owner easier, so that more people could become entrepreneurs like himself. After some though, he said he wished there were local support organizations that could provide support in areas like collective bargaining and advertising, helping the community understand the vital role that small businesses play in the well-being of their own lives, help lower the tax burdens like payroll taxes, Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, Worker's Compensation, property tax, and other things that make it hard for small business to hire workers, and to help provide financial advice and ideas for expansions. He feels that these type of things would help small businesses replace large corporate entities that take money out of local economies and leave it poorer, and instead concentrate wealth in communities. These things, if practiced everywhere would reduce our nation's deficit, as goods and services would be produced at home, and that would lead to prosperity for many, many people that are afflicted with poverty under the current global business system.

It is stories like this that illustrate why we need the services of the organization I am striving to create. These are real people, with real lives and needs that are not being met by the current system. So, if you would like to change this, and would like to hear more stories from other local business owners that I meet on my walk along the Pacific Crest Trail, please contribute at

Thank you!

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