Letters of Gratitude

For the longest time, Walmart, Barnes and Noble, and similar big chains were my stores of choice. I hardly ever frequented the local businesses in either Franklin or Sylva; I saw no reason to. This summer I got a full-time job at Books Unlimited, a local independent bookseller in Franklin. I had visited it several times, but it was nothing more than somewhere to go when I had time to kill. After working there for several weeks, I began to see how important it was to the community and people of Franklin. We have customers that come in several times a week, just to drop in and say hello. There are numerous people who come in during the tourist season and make comments about how nice it is to see an independent bookseller doing so well, with a large selection of books, and a large customer base. Main Street of Franklin is a community of and in itself. All the store employees and owners treat each other like family—and in a way we are.

Currently, Walmart is finalizing plans to build a new Super Walmart in Franklin. Many of the small business owners are afraid and a large group of citizens are in an uproar. An equally large section of Franklinites disparage the small businesses that help to keep the community afloat. People fail to realize sometimes that Franklin is driven by tourism; tourists don’t come for Walmart or McDonalds. Tourists come for Fat Buddies and Books Unlimited (independent businesses). They come for Primrose Cottage and Peoples.

In order for the small businesses of Franklin and Sylva to feel appreciated, I want to organize a Letters to the Small Businesses project. Much like letters written to servicemen serving overseas, letters would be written to the small businesses of both towns. The letter writers could express their appreciation for the specific goods provided, the friendly, high-quality service, the business owners’ influence and participation in the community, or simply the money that they give back that continues to circulate through small-town economies. I would like to get enough people to participate that at least the independent businesses of main street Sylva and Franklin receive one letter each. I would love to give each small business in the two towns multiple letters, but I realize that may be impossible. I would appreciate any letters. They can be to any business. Want to thank Fat Buddies? People’s? The Factory? Thank them. While I would prefer to think the commercial centers of Franklin and Sylva (their Main Street businesses), I will be more than happy to visit and give letters to any business. If you would like to email them to me, my email address is tjshepherd1@catamount.wcu.edu; you could even post it in the comment box on the “Contact Me” page.  If you have really nice handwriting and would rather write your letter, I can meet you to pick it up or you can drop it by Books Unlimited in Franklin with a note asking for it to be forwarded to me. Thank you so much.

Edit: Ok, kids. Don’t feel threatened by the “letter” length! Feel free to write a thank you note or message. This isn’t about quantity but quality. I’m not looking for a three page editorial expressing your gratitude but a simple “thanks for all you do. I truly appreciate the services you provide to our community.” Oh, and don’t feel limited by location either! It could be a small business anywhere–hometown, Cullowhee, Sylva, Franklin, Asheville, etc.

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