Ups and Downs of Small-Town Businesses

Now that I think Pickle and Vlassic are over their foam-eating issues, I can return to other topics. One that has especially interested me is how people in and around Cameron feel about the customer service mentality in the area. I may have mentioned that a couple days ago, Lee wrote a blog post about why Cameron has such a hard time keeping restaurants open.

Lee’s photo of the former Sonic, now up for sale.

Usually, our blog posts and Facebook business page posts get between 100-200 views/hits each. Not this one. The Facebook one has 2500 views and 14 shares. Mandi said the one on her page also got lots of shares. The website stats look hilarious. There were 1500 hits that day, which made the previous week look totally flat.

So, yeah, Lee’s thoughts on this topic struck a nerve. I’ve been hanging around Cameron for just nine years now, but I’ve seen so many places open and close right up. One has done it at least four times (I’m not naming names, just noting facts). When I talked to a former cafe owner, she said people would just walk off their jobs or not show up because they didn’t feel like it. Turnover was huge. Just a week or two ago we went to a local place where only the cashier had showed up, so she was trying to wait tables. It didn’t go well.

At the few restaurants that are doing well, the same people are there for long periods of time. A lot of it seems to be actual loyalty to the business owners, which means someone’s doing something right. But other business owners do their best to treat people well, but can’t retain them. It almost seems like people would rather complain about not having a job than actually DO a job that requires actual work or customer service. Eek, that’s harsh!

Oh look! More brick has been revealed. Just needed to perk up my depressing writing.

Since I know a LOT of people around here that DO work hard, I know it’s not everyone. There just doesn’t seem to be enough of them to go around to fill more than a certain number of restaurants and stores with polite people who are focused on customer service (yes, cashiers at convenience stores, it IS a good idea to speak to customers rather than listen to your music when you’re waiting on them).

It’s Not All Bad

I’m not saying that all the restaurants close because of poor service. There are many other factors (health codes, franchise demands, management issues) involved. In fact, there’s a rumor that I’m choosing to believe that says the Bush’s Chicken place will re-open soon! Maybe it will be as good as the ones in other towns! I sure hope so, even if I’m not eating much fried food these days.

This room can actually hold around 12 people for a meeting. We move the computer and lamp for meetings.

And the former Sonic building is for sale. Now’s the time to bring in someone who’s been listening to all the great suggestions out there for something people here will love (and love working at):

  • Healthy fast food (my vote)
  • Greek food
  • Pho or ramen
  • Ice cream (since that shop closed)
  • Coffee (a brick and mortar Rockdale Coffee Roasters?)
  • Smoothies
  • Barbecue (I love Circle S, but it’s only open two days a week, and the other one is just okay)

While I love the restaurants I frequent in town (hooray for the Dutchtowne Deli, which will expand soon, and the Central Avenue Bistro), we could use more options that aren’t Mexican, as much as I LOVE Mexican food.

Got any more ideas? I’m listening. For other ideas, see Lee’s post from last year, the previous time the Sonic closed.

Meanwhile

We are getting more bookings at the Hermit Haus, the former Christian Church in Cameron. WE had our first Master Naturalist training class there last night, and it was such fun to see so many people I knew and some fun new people in the class!

Meghan is all excited to have her giant new Master Naturalist book!

There will soon be D&D games in the facility, too, and moms and dads are finding it a good place for birthday parties when their house just can’t hold all the guests. A number of organizations find the conference room (see above) nice for board and committee meetings, too. Let your friends know!

It’s looking pretty friendly in our meeting area!

Enough ads for my businesses for one day. I’m gearing up for more introspection. Everybody’s favorite.

Author: Sue Ann (Suna) Kendall

The person behind The Hermits' Rest blog and many others. I'm a certified Texas Master Naturalist and love the nature of Milam County. I manage technical writers in Austin, help with Hearts Homes and Hands, a personal assistance service, in Cameron, and serve on three nonprofit boards. You may know me from La Leche League, knitting, iNaturalist, or Facebook. I'm interested in ALL of you!

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