Lessons learned from another successful Yard Sale

11 years ago

SmallBusiness    Oh my! I knew the City-Wide Yard Sale was big. But until you sit in this chair, you have no idea. “Why didn’t I get maps this year?” Um … I did not know you got them last year. “Why isn’t the map on your website?” Uh … I did not think of it and when I did, I could not get the form to attach. “Do you have a map?” Yes. “Can I have ten?” Ten!? “My store ran out.” Wow! I gave you several hundred. “I know but I am out.” Okay.

    I will definitely know next year to take my vitamins starting at the beginning of April. All kidding aside, I am glad that the sale is such a big deal. Anything that brings people to Caribou is a very good thing. A big thanks goes to all the sales that signed up this year. You are why they come.
    We picked up a new member this week! The Loring Development Authority joined. I was thinking about this a bit when it occurred. And I found that a bit of that basketball mentality crept up on me. And that was interesting because I preach against that mentality all of the time.
    What am I talking about? The idea is that all our cities and towns in Aroostook are in competition to each other just like we are in basketball. While that mentality is fine for basketball, I do not believe it is healthy for us as Aroostook County people when it comes to our towns. Basically, any good thing that happens to one of our cities or towns spills over into ours.
Is it true that the city of Caribou and Loring Development Authority are trying to bring businesses into our area? Yes. Does that mean that we compete with them and vice versa? I do not believe so. If a business moves here, then that means jobs not only for our people, but also for Limestone and Fort Fairfield. And the same thing goes for businesses that decide to settle in those places.
    Is it important that businesses find Caribou an attractive destination? Absolutely. But that is on us to create a culture and a climate that allows that to happen on a regular basis. Our city manager, Austin Bleess, and the Planning Board are actively looking at that culture and climate. If we do our jobs correctly, businesses will come. If we do not, then another town will get them. Is that a competition or is it which town is doing a better job? It could be the latter or it could be neither. I do not believe the town that gets the business won a competition.
    Let me illustrate it another way. Years ago, I was the president of the board of the Caribou Country Club. When I was elected to the position, I noticed the course did not have a website. That was unacceptable. So I put one up. On the site, I created a “Links” page and on that page, I created a link to all the other golf clubs in Aroostook.
    Well, holy smokes, you would have thought I swore on live television. The board was livid. “How can you advertise our competitors!?”
    I tried, while back-pedaling, to tell them that they needed to look at the bigger picture. Players on their courses like to come over and play at ours. And our players like something different once in a while and go to their courses. Wouldn’t it be logical that if we all worked together, we could get discounts to other courses if we all worked together? We all make money that way.
    I tried to explain that if we marketed our course correctly, then we would succeed and it was not about competing with other courses, but doing a good job with ours. They could not see it at the time, but that was years ago and the current board sees it much better and the CCC’s president, Peter Doebener, is certainly a big picture thinker.
    Anyway, the bottom line of all this thinking is that the Loring Development Authority is not a competitor, but is a partner in bringing jobs and money to our area. If they succeed, we all win. Therefore, I am proud the organization has joined and that is great. Welcome!
    Goodness! That was probably the most complicated new member greeting in history. The Chamber has added 21 new members since the end of November.
    I traveled to a conference at Augusta hosted by the Maine Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives (MACCE) of which I am a member. The two-day event was perfect for a guy like me just getting his feet wet at this job. I picked a lot of brains and learned quite a bit of useful information that will help me going forward.
    One other thing that was gratifying at the conference was that, although I am new, I shared a couple of things I was doing and saw a lot of surprised faces and furious note writing. All in all, it was a trip well worth taking.
    In one last reminder, there is still time, but let me know immediately if you are planning on marching in the Caribou Memorial Day Parade.
    Happy Anniversary wishes go to Caribou Eyecare, one of our longest standing members, which joined in 1982, Crown Park Inn which has been a member since 2001, FA Peabody, a member since 2002, Freme’s Jewelry which joined in 1988 and Reno’s Family Restaurant and Reno & Sons Landscaping, both of which joined way back in 1984. Thank you all for your continuous belief in the value of the Chamber!
    Executive Director William Tasker may be reached in the CACC office at 498-6156 or e-mail him at cacc@cariboumaine.net.