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The benefit of strong ties to the community

Your customers have been good to you.

First and foremost, throughout the past few years, they’ve stuck with you and that means a lot. You’ve survived the bad times together, and that’s allowed you to become friends; you share triumphs, you ask about family, you offer support when it’s needed. You might even get together socially.

The people you do business with have given you much, and now it’s time to give back. In “Good Morning, Beautiful Business” by Judy Wicks, you’ll read about one woman who found a way to do just that.

Judy Wicks started her first business at age 6 when her family moved to a quiet lane in Ingomar in western Pennsylvania. Wicks was looking for community, so she dragged her child-sized table and chairs and a record player down to the end of the driveway and opened her first “restaurant.”

FOUNDATION FOR LATER

As a bit of a tomboy, Wicks loved to build things in the woods behind her house, using reclaimed and recycled materials lying around her neighborhood. She played baseball and loved sports (both things that little girls in the early ‘60s were discouraged to do), and she hated when anybody said she couldn’t do something. Those things gave her a foundation for later endeavors.

Just out of college, Wicks was married in her beloved woods, joined VISTA with her husband and taught school in an Eskimo village in Alaska. When their service was up, they decided to open a store that would cater to anyone “under 30,” so they set up shop near the University of Pennsylvania campus in Philadelphia.

A few years later, the store successful, Wicks left her husband and was hired, literally within moments, to be a waitress at a local restaurant.

There, she began “12 years of on-the-job training for opening my own restaurant just down the street.”

RELATIONSHIPS

Her tenure also taught her that business “is about relationships. Money is simply a tool.” And that led her to activism for her community and suppliers, and to “ultimately work collaboratively to build a compassionate and caring economy.”

There’s a lot of good inside “Good Morning, Beautiful Business.” And there’s a lot that made me say, “Meh.”

It’s always interesting to see how someone takes a grain of an idea and turns it into a living, and author Wicks does that well. Her memoir of entrepreneurship and eventual activism is gentle and thoughtful, and she obviously relishes sharing the joys that come with strong ties to the community in which a business lies.

But there were two things that lost me: an alphabet soup of acronyms and relentless names of dozens of people that most readers won’t know.

The former knot is common and is generally forgivable because it can be untied easy enough; the latter issue may make this book hard to stick with.

Overall, I think it may demand a special kind of reader: one who can remain heavily focused on business sustainability, locality and community. If that’s you, then you’ll find “Good Morning, Beautiful Business” to be good to you.

Terri Schlichenmeyer of Wisconsin writes reviews of business books. Reading since she was 3, she owns 13,000 books and can be reached at bookwormsez@yahoo.com.

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