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Small store, big impact

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A delivery person came to my door recently and dropped off a small potted Guzmania plant and an envelope addressed to my wife.

My first thought was, "Oh great, what family anniversary did I forget this time?"

In fact, the gift was sent by Mike and Kim, owners of a local clothing store where our family shops. "Thank you again for your business," the enclosed message read. "It is very much appreciated!"

The store is where my wife goes when she needs something nice to wear at a writers' conference or other special occasion.

And "nice" is not a synonym for "extravagant." It means something better than you'd get off the rack at a big-box chain retailer - and I don't think that attitude makes me an advocate of class warfare.

Mike and Kim have worked hard to build and maintain a base of loyal customers. The apparel and accessories they sell are superior quality and tastefully stylish. When my spouse is wearing a jacket or other garment from their place, my first thought when I see her wearing the item is, "Gee, that looks really nice!"

But the store is not just about selling clothes. Many small businesses add value to communities that can't be measured solely in monetary terms.

Mike and Kim are active participants in efforts to increase school funding and other local issues, and it's not just a calculated PR ploy. They're serious about keeping their unique commercial thread woven into the fabric of local society.

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