Have you ever thought about that question? Probably not, unless you own your own business. But you should, even as a customer. How are you doing business? You have more choices than you realize, and those choices have impacts.

We're a very small company — just the five of us — and Ben has begun the introductions. If you come into the store, you'll only see one or two of us at a time. If you send us an email, you'll get a personal response, usually within a few hours. That's how we do business, so that's how you do business with us. And that's how we expect other businesses to do business with us, too. We have chosen vendors and caterers and service providers for the store based on whether they treat us this way or whether they treat us impersonally.

The thing is, you have the same ability to choose how you do business that we do. Every business, no matter how large, is comprised of people. Some megabrands, like The Container Store and Whole Foods and others mentioned in John Mackey's excellent book Conscious Capitalism, remember that those people are, in fact, their business. You can talk to them. You can pick up the phone to resolve an issue. You can look someone in the eye to ask a question. We can all list other places we've conducted business where we are not treated this way. And we feel the difference in those interactions.

So the question is, how are you doing business? You can do better, and you can demand better interactions. Support businesses who acknowledge the individual people who work for them, rather than those who treat them like interchangeable cogs in an impersonal machine. We're on a first name basis with all of the makers in our store. We can tell you their stories and about our relationship with them.

You can be on a first name basis with us, and we'd love to build a relationship with you. Come check us out!