Are small business owners heroes?


To the Editor:

Given that the vast majority of jobs are created by small businesses, are the people that create and operate small businesses heroes? When you walk into your local bakery, do you think about the person who created that bakery as a local hero? If you’re like me you ask yourself, when did a cup of coffee start costing $2?

Given the present economic climate, I rarely give those taking all the risk the credit they deserve for making sure hot coffee is ready at the crack of dawn, or operating a local theater in the day and age of Netflix, or creating an awesome micro-brew so I can enjoy it after a long hot day.

Unlike our local firefighters or local police, we rarely think of the small business person as a hero. I would argue that those that make up our main streets and commercial centers deserve some recognition for their part in creating a vibrant community.

Small businesses take a risk by opening their doors. Some do the easier, less risky enterprise like opening up a moped rental or tee-shirt shop. However, there are some that are motivated by how their businesses will benefit their communities. They ask themselves, “Is what I am creating a net value add?”

Having worked with the Pit Stop Workshop on creating their crowdfunding campaign, I got to know the lead organizer, Don, pretty well. He is a soft-spoken guy who has a lot to say, if you ask. He has little experience running a performance arts venue, but he realized the need for one on his Island. With the help of his daughters, Willy Mason, and a dedicated crew, the Pit Stop Workshop was born. Before the Pit Stop opened its doors this winter, many Islanders did not have a place to perform. Now they do.

Are the Dons of the world heroes? I would argue yes, because they are creating opportunity, jobs, and contributing to the character of Martha’s Vineyard.

It would have been easier for the owner of the Pit Stop to use it as a parking lot for the local car rental shop or raze the place and turn it into yet another high price housing development. But this dedicated owner has a larger vision that went outside the “profit motive” and tried to fill a community need.

Now they are asking for support from the local community that finds their mission so vital. While pats on the back are nice, they don’t pay the electric bill.

Join the dozen or so donors who have stepped up and contributed. Help the Pit Stop expand its business, create more jobs, and provide Islanders and summer visitors with a place to perform, converse, and relax.

Check out their campaign and consider contributing.

Arthur Hardy-Doubleday

Oak Bluffs