A Tale of Two Cities

We market into two towns in our area. We are located in a dinky town, population of just 300. So there really is no customer base for our services here. We have spent a lot of time marketing into two counties – the one we live in, and the one next door where we shop the most. They are very different towns.

Neither has yielded much in the way of business, but the quality of the business and the relationships is quite different. Over the years, we have tried to do things within the county we live in, but it has proven to be a hopeless effort! They do not want to progress, and the attitudes of the business owners have been unproductive to to work with.

Wyoming is a distinctively different place to live and work anyway. People love it or hate it. We love a lot of it, deplore other aspects. The complacency drives us nuts sometimes. The high alcohol and drug use rates are beyond apalling. But the day to day interactions are often difficult, and frequently painful. It has brought me to the point of wondering whether we are making an effort that may have a positive effect in the long term if we just keep trying in spite of opposition, or whether we are just wasting time poking ourselves in the eye.

In our home county, EVERY business prospect has been twice as hard to get, and twice as much trouble once we got them. Petty politics and power plays become an issue, and cause all sorts of grief. In the last two months, we’ve been insulted, verbally abused, accused of failure to honor a contract (in one case where the entity wanted more for their money when already receiving 50% discounts on rates that are far below industry averages, and in another case because we refused to do all of the work for Phase 2 in a contract in the Phase 1 payment period!). One was salvageable, the other was not, and it was a relief to see it go, though hard, because one of the main instigators is someone who had posed as a friend for a period of about three years.

I think I am just tired of working so hard to try to help people locally, only to have it blow up on me. We are contemplating seriously just dropping our two Chamber memberships in the county we live in, and only maintaining the one in the nearby county. One has profited us, the other two have not really. It is a sad thing to come to the conclusion that you have to give up on an entire area though. Because it is about more than just business – it is about community, and attitude, and direction, and progress.

Our membership in the Chamber in the other community has been productive. It has resulted in teaching engagements, new contracts, and reciprocity. This has been far from the case in the other two towns – one is a nice, though tiny, area. But it has that quality that many small tourist areas do – they will welcome you on the surface, but you really won’t be part of them until you have lived there 40 years. The other has been completely a waste of time. A sense of normality on the surface, but no ability to make progress. Every effort is like rowing upstream.

By withdrawing from the community we will potentially lose $25 per month in income. That is $25 per month that is hard to get actually PAID, and which takes more time than most of our maintenance agreements for the same amount.

It still surprises me how communities can be so different. And how people just seem to take on the skin of the community they adopt, whether intentionally or not.

I’m not entirely sure where we’ll be going with this. But I do know that something has changed in me. I’m just not sure how it is going to come out in action yet.

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