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 Erin Henderson, left, and Emily Goodman work at Scott Colburn Boots & Western Wear Nov. 14.

Erin Henderson, left, and Emily Goodman work at Scott Colburn Boots & Western Wear Nov. 14.

Photo by Erin Sanchez

Farmington businesses bring good business to community

By: Sherri Kolade | Farmington Press | Published November 15, 2018


FARMINGTON — Scott Colburn Boots & Western Wear owner Sarah Colburn believes that small businesses succeed on the strength of their employees and the dedication of their customers — and she wouldn’t have it any other way.

“They employ and impact the local community directly,” Colburn said. “Small business has a personal connection and investment with the local community.”

Shoppers, retailers and business analysts are paying more attention to the impact of small business as Small Business Saturday approaches Nov. 24. The campaign encourages consumers to buy local from a brick-and-mortar small business.

Scott Colburn Boots & Western Wear has been around for 68 years. The store was started by Colburn’s father, Scott, and operated in downtown Farmington in the 1960s and 1970s on Grand River Avenue before moving to 20411 Farmington Road in Livonia.

Colburn said that her family and store are all about community. This spirit of community spans back decades to when her father helped bring square dancing to the Detroit Public Schools system through a Ford-sponsored program to teach early American dance in local schools.

He was Michigan’s first full-time square dance caller and traveled the state, according to the store’s website. He founded the Michigan Square Dance Leaders Association in 1949 and later published the Michigan Square Dance News.

The owner of The Italian Dish in Birmingham, Holly Anselmi, comes from a long line of entrepreneurs.

“My grandfather had a roller rink in Waterford,” she said. “My cousins have a business and my brother is a local attorney. There is a little bit of it in our blood.”

Local business owners have a unique connection with their customers as important members of the community, she said, noting that she is a past member of Women of Tomorrow, which mentors high school girls.

“My dad was on the school board,” she said. “We support the schools and pay taxes here, and I employ five women that work here,” Anselmi said.

Customers benefit from shopping local by discovering new and unique items, she said.

“We have a loyal customer base that is always looking for something new,” she said in her Maple Road store that features Italian pottery, gift and food items, and a wide array of holiday-themed offerings.

“You don’t know stuff like this exists anymore,” said Nancy Mazurek, who works at The Italian Dish. “I like to see things up close. And you won’t get that personal touch at the mall.”

Anselmi said she applies her “shop local” philosophy personally.

“I think about that when I need makeup or gifts,” she said. “We all like to shop online — it is easy and convenient. But it doesn’t do anything for the local community.”

At the Scott Colburn Boots & Western Wear Farmington location, customers would often frequent the store to buy jeans. Colburn said that her father brought products to metro Detroit that were not otherwise available.

“Sears didn’t carry Western Wear,” during that time, she said.

The store that sells practically everything but the horse is still going strong, as is the smell of leather inside. “I think it is the uniqueness of the product that made us a specialty store and special to the community,” Colburn said.

The store promotes members of the community by selling local artists’ merchandise, hosting musicians and donating money to fundraisers, Colburn said.

Detroit entrepreneur Levi Johnson Jr. is one of those partners. He sells a locally made barbecue sauce, Mr. Levi’s My T Fine Soul Sauce, which is sold at the store, at Busch’s Fresh Food Market in Farmington Hills, online and in other stores.

Johnson said that he also sells homemade pins — made from pine cones — at the store.

Johnson has partnered with Scott Colburn Boots & Western Wear for a couple of years now.

“Small business are vital to the economy because these are the people that are passionate about what they sell because, usually, what they sell is a product they have a real genuine passion about,” Johnson said.

“The economy is thriving because now people are gravitating toward things that are a little more specialized as opposed to what the big-box stores are selling,” he said, adding that small business is at the heart of America.

“The Western spirit is the spirit of our country that is alive and thriving,” he said, adding that that spirit speaks of pioneers and people who are interested in making a new start. “That is pretty much where America is right now — looking for new challenges and new ideas springing forth.”

Johnson said that the old ideas are falling away and new ideas of merchandising with internet are there, but it is not the end-all and be-all.

“People still want that genuinely feel of walking up and touching an item before they buy it,” he said. “(The Colburn store) speaks to that era.”

Mary Martin, executive director of the Greater Farmington Area Chamber of Commerce, said in an email that small businesses have a big impact on their communities.

“In Farmington and Farmington Hills, we are fortunate to see the growth of small businesses and the positive impact they are having on community life and the investment people are making by choosing to live here,” she said.

Martin added that the future stability of the community is in part due to a growing economy coming from those businesses.   

“Small businesses represent growth that allows both citizens and the local government to get what they need to make improvements,” she said. “You could say that small businesses within Farmington and Farmington Hills had an indirect impact on the passing of the millages. People who live here like it here and welcome the opportunity for improving the quality of life. At the same time, it allows real people with good ideas to take action and make their business dream a reality. ...  Small is big.”