We are so pleased to be celebrating the Twenty-Fifth Anniversary of Crackerjack!
It seems unimaginable, and a lifetime, that we have survived so many ups and downs, changes in technology, artists who have come and gone, trends that have appeared, and then, as suddenly disappeared. Remember bolo ties? We had some beautiful ones back in the 80's for both men and women. I wonder if they will re-surface soon?
So many memories and faces! My first employee, Tamara, a student, now lives in the neighborhood and has children of her own who are fast approaching the college years. And the two regulars, who would browse the store on their weekly "coffee day" who told me they had their ears pierced so they could buy earrings at Crackerjack - what a compliment! The customers and employees who became more than that, who came to my baby shower, whose weddings I've attended, and the customers whose children I've seen graduate from the stroller to high school, to college and beyond. There are several of us who remember being pregnant at the same time, and who keep up on what the kids are all doing. Several of my longest personal friendships are with other merchants, current and former, who I met at the Wallingford Center. This has been one of the joys of owning and running a small business that has stood the test of time - the personal relationships, the sense of being a part of the larger community.
Over twenty- five years I have certainly seen some major changes in how we have all done business. In the beginning, orders were written out, copied and mailed. Then it became standard to fax orders, which saved several days. Now everyone wants to email everything - instantaneous! Someone still needs to print things out, but even shipping seems faster than in the "old days". We are selling online, keeping in touch with our customers and colleagues via email and Facebook. We accept coupons redeemable through an App on your phone! Amazing - who would have thought?
For twenty-five years, I have owned and operated a small shop. After twenty-five years, I am now in the habit of saying "store" - somehow it sounds more serious than "shop" -because I take what I do very seriously. When I look at the statistics for longevity of small businesses, I am astonished! According to the Small Business Administration, small employer firms with fewer than 500 employees (well, we're way below that!) have a survival rate of only 50% after five years, 33% after ten years and only about 25% after fifteen years. So Crackerjack has certainly survived the odds!
Some other interesting statistics I found: small businesses employ about half of all private sector employees and pay 44% of total U.S. private payroll; they generated 65% of net new jobs over the past 17 years, create more than half of the non-farm GDP and are 52% home-based. Of the 27.1 million non-farm businesses in 2007, women owned 7.8 million businesses which generated $1.2 trillion in revenue, employed 7.6 million workers, and paid $218 billion in payroll. Pretty good arguments for supporting small local businesses, aren't they?
And while "store" may sound more significant, what has always been at the core of the business philosophy we employ at Crackerjack is the customer service and attention one associates with a small shop. It is those personal relationships on both sides of the desk that distinguishes a store like Crackerjack from a big box store or one that is a part of a national chain. It is also the relationships we have with the artists whose work we sell - they are people, not just vendors. We talk with them - some we know personally, we know their stories, their processes. We are a part of their community, as they are of ours! I know this is a large part of what has helped Crackerjack to thrive and survive for twenty-five years - the support of our loyal customers and our fabulous artists!
So join us this year as we celebrate not only our success as a store, but the success of all the artists who are able to continue creating because we are able to showcase their work and make it available to our clientele. Because it is a celebration of you as well - we couldn't have done it without you!