Photo by Danny Fulgencio

Cheryl Calvin has a 17-year-old baby, The Store in Lake Highlands, a jewelry, clothing and gift shop. Her two kids were in elementary school when the boutique opened, and they grew up in the store, learning responsibility by working weekends there throughout high school.

While the retail business changed rapidly over the years, with two-day shipping and shopping apps, Calvin kept it going through the power of community spirit and good customer service.

Her advice for other small-business owners: You will make no money for three to five years and it’s like a newborn, you will be there all the time, and then as it grows you can do other things.

She keeps in touch with customers through social media and weekly emails: I will never be able to truly compete with you being able to order something and it being at your home instantaneously. How I am different is that you can come in and touch and feel and you get free gift-wrapping, and customer service that you don’t get online.

On running a small-business while undergoing breast-cancer surgeries in 2017: My girls totally took care of my store while I was going through that. The longest I’ve ever been gone from my store was after I had my double mastectomy, I was truly gone for two weeks and didn’t do anything.

Why you should check yourself: I’m a huge supporter of self-examination because that’s how I found mine. Mammograms are great, but women need to be aware of their body.

How small businesses matter: Small businesses pay local taxes and support the neighborhood in a way that online stores can’t. They’re the base of your community. Who pays to have their name on kids’ T-shirts? Who does that? Not Amazon.

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