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Cabarrus Magazine

Cabarrus Magazine Reader Award Winners Discuss Real Issues of Running A Business on 'Up Front'

Feb 24, 2020 04:57PM ● By Jason Huddle

Real Talk with Cabarrus Magazine Reader Award Winners

Welcome to Up Front with Cabarrus Magazine, sponsored by Atlantic Bay Mortgage, Cabarrus Arena and Events Center, Cabarrus Eye Center, CERTEC Automotive, Code Ninjas, Concord Downtown Development Corporation, Family Wealth Partners, Merle Norman Cosmetics and Edie`s Salon, and your CBD store of Concord. I'm your host, Jason Huddle.
Welcome once again to Up Front with Cabarrus Magazine. I'm so pleased you're here this week as we're getting to know a couple of our Cabarrus  magazine Reader Award winners. I originally scheduled to do this last week we had some scheduling conflicts, still had some scheduling conflicts this week, and so we got two of our four winners coming into studio today will be Steve Steinbacher,  from Cabarrus Brewing Company and Alan Bishop from the smoke pit. Unfortunately, representatives from Cabo Winery and 73 Main couldn't be here. But we're gonna come in and talk to them a little bit about how they've achieved their success in a relatively short amount of time. And we're also gonna have some discussion about some real challenges that they face just as business owners as business managers, just running your own business and the business climate in Cabarrus county. What that's like, what are some things that they've learned along the way and still are learning? I think if you are in business for yourself and I can speak to this firsthand, if you are in business for yourself, you're constantly learning. You're constantly adjusting your constantly making moves to better your company. But also, sometimes you're in survival mode, too. So they've learned a lot along the way, and they're gonna share sort of some nuggets with us about what it takes to have a successful business here in Cabarrus county and really anywhere. So I'm excited to have them into studio, and we're gonna talk about all that. But first, instead of shameless plug time this week, I have a new segment for you. It's called 90 Seconds with a celebrity. So earlier this week, chef Robert Irvine was in town at the Charlotte Motor Speedway. If you're not familiar with Chef Irvine, you should be. He's a great guy. You see him on the Food Network a lot. He is the host of Restaurant Impossible, that's his show. And then you also see him as a guest host or guest judge or or guest chef on lots of other shows on food network, including Chopped, Worst Cooks in America Anyway. So he was in town. I was there at the press conference and I managed to get just about a minute and half with Chef Irvine just to talk to him about what his thoughts were about this area. He's done a lot of things with the speedway, so I wanted to find out why he keeps coming back to the Speedway for partnerships and what he thinks of our restaurant scenes. So I did get about 90 seconds with him, and you're gonna hear that interview right now, here we go.
Chef Irvine Jason Huddled Cabarrus magazine how're you doing today?  
Good, Great, thank you.  
I just want to ask you a couple quick questions. What keeps you coming back to Charlotte Motor Speedway?
Well, I think first of all, their commitment to the fans, commitment to the military and these drivers are unbelievable. So NASCAR for me has really grown. My viewers my my  people that watched Restaurant Impossible are in them stands and its so great when you walk around the stands and talk to all of them and get a chance to feed them, get a chance to laugh and talk with them, take pictures. But these drivers it`s the only sport where they care about their viewers. They really do! I mean, Joey Logano, Dania Suarez, Bubba or the all these guys they want to talk to the people who come out and chant for them and the Coke 600 is one of the most meaningful races that you could ever be at.
I have to ask you why you're in town. Do you? Do you scout out some restaurants that might need some help?  
No, I don't. You know, it's so funny. I try and find our markers markers to find something that we go to eat, that we have to do it quickly. So we're in and out without people noticing who I am.  
But no, Charlotte is a great food food city, so there's not many failures here, Chef, thank you very much. Hope to catch up with you in May.  
Absolutely take care.
So again, if you've seen Chef Irvine on TV, he's kind of this big kind of a grouchy, brooding guy. He's super ripped. He's he works out. I joked that he swings a sledgehammer like it's uh, regular hammer. He's got biceps that are crazy. And you`d think that his persona on TV is how he's gonna really be like he's actually really super nice, very accommodating, very gracious. And he even took a picture with me before I left. And that picture is on our Up Front with Cabarrus Magazine podcast page so you can go check that out. But I appreciate Chef Irvine taking a few minutes with me and fingers crossed when he comes back in May for the Coca Cola 600. We're trying to work it out with his people for me to actually be able to sit down and have a legitimate interview with him. So we`ll keep you posted on that? That's coming up in May, so we'll see what happens there. But that concludes this segment of 90 seconds with a celebrity.
Alright you guys stay tuned when we get back, Steve Steinbacher from Cabarrus Brewing Company and Alan Bishop from the Smoke Pit will be in studio to talk with us next.
Welcome back to Up Front with Cabarrus Magazine. I am joined today by Steve Steinbacher and Alan Bishop from Cabarrus Brewing Company and the Smoke Pit, respectively. First of all gentlemen, thank you guys both for coming in today. So you guys were two of the four winners we invited all four, but we had some scheduling conflicts. So two of  were not available, but you guys won, Steve won best overall business with the Cabarrus  Magazine Reader awards and Smoke Pit won best casual dining. Third consecutive year.  
Yeah. Good. So you guys were just probably
Your my favorite. You got my vote Alan.
And you've got mine.
It's it's it's hard to compete with The Smoke Pits  barbecue,it really is. I tell you, I was telling somebody the other day I smoke a lot of my own meat. I really enjoy that so because I smoke my own meat. I typically don't go out for barbecue.  
Because I enjoy my own so much. But Smoke Pits the exception there. It's just so good.
Anybody that aspires to be a good smoker wants to do your brisket. And burnt ends.
And burnt ends.
I mean, you know, maybe you can do the pulled pork. But, you know, brisket is the true barometer and uh, you can't beat The Smoke Pits brisket and burnt ends.
Let me tell you from experience that smoking a brisket is no joke, like having the perfection that it takes to smoke a good brisket. It's hard, It is not easy smoking pork butts. I do that all day. That's easy. Smoking a brisket is hard.  
Gotta have the right combination of time and temperature to you can mess it up really quick.  
As I have.
As I have. In fact, I did. I tried a couple and I blew so much money trying to smoke a brisket. I just decided I was just gunna go to Smoke Pit.  
We'll just go to The Smoke Pit and get some.  
If I feel like brisket I`ll have Smoked Pit. So the reason why I wanted to have you guys in today was first of all, let's talk about some business. Lets have some real conversation about business in Cabarrus County. You guys both have enjoyed a lot of success in a relatively short amount of time. Steve, you've been opened four years.  

It`ll be four years this March.
In March. So you're
Saint Patty's Day
Right! So almost four years old Smoke pit. How long you have you guys been open?
December 14 was the first.
Right, so so was  
Five, six years.
Right now, it's just past six years, all right, so that's relatively short amount of time to have had the success that you guys have had. Let's first talk about the positive. What are some things that you guys, Steve, you won best overall business and actually you you hit the twofer because at celebrate Cabarrus, you also won best overall business for the CVB`s Golden Helmet Awards too right, So why is that? Why you're you guys so popular with the public?  
Well, I think it's a combination of things. One, We were very appreciative both of you and Cabarrus Magazine as well as the CVB. I think you both do a tremendous job, really promoting and fostering the community here that is unique in Cabarrus County.  
Thank you for that.
That goes a long way. I think, into our success too, only in that you know, our success in what you may say is a relatively short period of time and maybe four years is but sometimes it feels like forty.
My magazine is 20 years old. So you guys are still newbies to me.
Time flies, but I think ah, a lot of it is timing, you know, for us we were very fortunate to be one of the early. We weren't the first to open our doors here in Cabarrus county from a craft brewing perspective. I think that we were the first to really get the movement going. I remember like yesterday asking, why are there no craft breweries here in Cabarrus County, specifically Concord, when you could see everything that was going on in Charlotte? And so you know that that conversation I had initially led to zoning issues, and some of the early conversations I have with others that had wanted to open a brewery here basically said, Well, it's just not worth the fight. Well, to me, it's easy to sell something that people want to buy, and that includes the local zoning authorities and City Council, and so on and so forth. So we were able to, I think, at the right time open our doors to a community that was looking for something, and I don't want to say just beer and craft beer, but just kind of a community gathering spot. So timing was very important to I think our early and continued success, I think another huge component of our success was our early partnership with The Smoke Pit. You know, when we opened our doors, we had no food, food and food trucks, even that, you know, they were all over the place. But we really wanted to do something different and unique, and I'll never forget the first time we sat down with you guys.   
At the at the Union Street Bistro at the time with you, Joey. Jeremy, I have never eaten a meal like that in my life. And I think it was some one of those things. Wow, this is really something. And just the fact and the lengths that the smoke pit went to put a trailer on our patio when we opened was huge, and you know the the success of them and their help in pulling people to us. Was just a great great win win. And again, we're forever grateful for The Smoke Pit, we still are and they cater probably two thirds of all the events we have at the brewery now. Timing timing is a huge part of 
That's the most natural partnership sense chocolate and peanut butter.  Beer and barbecue. Alan, Let's talk about the smoke pit, you guys third consecutive year winning best casual dining with the readers awards and numerous awards were not the only people that have handed them to you. Um, you could say and rightfully so. Well, it's the food. It's the food that keeps people coming back. And I will grant you that. But I have known a lot of restaurant tours who I have had great food, but no customers. Why is The Smoke Pit so popular?
Gosh, I wish it was easy to explain a lot of what Steve said. There wasn't really any good local barbecue right here in the area. That was anything similar to what we do and like I've told you Jason and many other people. I can't take credit for the food. I'm not the chef for the concept behind it. That wasn't my idea. But those guys that did get things started spared no expense. They did their research. They were not out to copy anybody are to hurt any local businesses or anything like that again, just like with Steve, it was the right people involved at the right time, people that were motivated, people that had experience. And, you know, the product is fantastic, but yes, service side of things and the right location and the right partnerships and with other businesses and things like that definitely made a big difference. We have some of the most passionate customers. I joked the other day. If we change our
Steve raised his hand
Right, we change our french fries and it's like, Oh, my gosh, you know, social media catches on fire. It's just crazy how passionate people are about our food on. That's a great feeling. Overall, whether it's good feedback or bad feedback, they're paying attention, were extremely responsive to that kind of stuff, constantly changing and evolving. Even though we're a relatively new business, menus have been updated. We've opened three more stores trying to target areas that we feel like would be good growth areas. So I think it's just combination of all that. I don't think we can chalk it up to one exact thing. We've been very fortunate. I'm very thankful the three owners are extremely thankful on appreciative as well.
You just opened a Gastonia a couple of months ago.
And it's going well? 
very well, just like everybody else. We struggle with staffing on when that store opened, just like all the other stores, we were struggling, trying to get its staff. So we did what we referred to as a soft opening. We didn't do a lot of advertising. We fed some local elected officials and service professionals, firemen and policemen and things like that and invited those folks in and the staff that we had on deck. We had their families come in kind of for friends and family day for about the 1st 2 or three days, so we really didn't blast it all over. Social media and the folks at the gas chamber and the Gaston Gazette wanted to get a hold of it and We were trying to hold them back a little bit because we didn't want to set ourselves up to be off on the wrong foot. But we're finally getting up speed down there. We still need help. So if anybody out there needs a job, please reach out all the four stores air hiring. But other than that, that store is doing extremely well a little bit better than what we expected, actually.
Very good. Very good. When we come back, I wanna have some conversation about challenges. I love to paint a rosy picture as much as anybody. But the truth of the matter is being in business is hard and there are some challenges even the successful ones have. So we're gonna talk about that after this break. Is that okay? You guys gonna stick around?  Absolutely awesome. Great. You guys stay right here and to our listeners. Don't go anywhere. We will be right back.
And welcome back to Upfront  with Cabarrus Magazine once again joined by Steve Steinbacher from Cabarrus Brewing Company and Alan Bishop from The Smoke Pit. Appreciate them sitting in with us today. They are the winners, two of the four winners of the Cabarrus Magazine Reader`s Awards and we talked in the first segment about the secret to their success and why they've been able to have a lot of success in a relatively and it's all relative short amount of time. Let's talk about some challenges, Steve, before we turn the mic on  you said that initially there was a big ramp up When you guys open there was getting a lot of press. You were getting a lot of help from the CVB. There were some things like all the stars kind of aligned for you. But you still said you might do some things differently if you were opening up today. Can you elaborate on that for us?  
Well, I think you know, if you look back and say all right, what would we do differently today? Then we did four years ago. I think we may scale our operation a little bit different. I think you know, if if we were opening a brewery today and again building on what we talked about earlier timing was everything. We were very fortunate to be in a good position to secure a lot of grocery store shelf space, a lot of taps and wholesale accounts. That is a much different story today. Unfortunately, you know, we were able to secure that space, we would be unable to maintain it. It's one thing to get it. It's another thing to keep it and so we've been very fortunate that we were able to secure it and maintain it. I think if we were to go try and secure it today, that real estate, which is what you get on a grocery store shelf, is a lot tougher to get in today than it was four years ago. And that's just because of not only the number of  breweries, but the number of beers that are being put out by breweries. So, you know, I think
Craft beers.
Craft beers. 
Its like everybody has a craft beer.
Well, not well. The craft breweries are putting out craft beers, but everybody now is putting out not just two or three beers. I mean, 10 years ago, you know, every brewery had a flagship, you know, you knew Sierra Nevada Pale ale and New Belgium was Fat Tire. Every brewery of significance had their flagship. Now there are no flagships. I mean, everybody has six or seven beers, and they're constantly coming out with new beer. So it's it's a challenge to keep up with that, and I think that to me, is what's different today than maybe what was four years ago, at least for us. We were able to secure those shelf locations and freezer, you know, cold, cold sets, they're called. So that was that was different. Maybe we wouldn't have put as much resource and emphasis into our wholesale business. I mean, we spent a lot of money and then made a lot of investments in wholesale, whether it be packaging, equipment, trucks, so on and so forth. And we're thrilled we did four years ago, but I don't think we would have done that today, if that makes sense, yes. So I think that that's kind of the hindsight that we would look back. We don't second guess anything, but it just would be a completely different approach today, based on those certain variables.
So are you gonna be scaling back? How much your dealing with the groceries stores?  
Not at all. No, no, not at all. Again, if I we are very excited about some of the opportunities we have to continue to grow were approved and significantly more stores than we are actually in. So for us, it's one thing to get it. It's another thing to do it and do it well. It's very easy to outsell yourself. So you know, we're excited to expand that and we're excited to come out with a lot of different beers. Had we not done this four years ago, I probably wouldn't be doing it today. So that's that's a key about timing.
Um and again, I think it's, you know, having the opportunity presented to you. Capitalizing on it and then continue to grow and manage it forward, the opportunities that exist today are not the same they were four years ago. If that makes sense.
Sure, Absolutely.  
So, yeah, no we're gonna we're gonna keep growing. And that's an important part of our business. Absolutely.
Okay, Alan, you guys went from one location to four locations.
Within six years. Is that too much? Too soon?    
Uh, some of us would argue that it was. I mean, we're a small business. We, you know, we don't outsource a lot of that. We do a lot of the up fits and everything in house. We just find that's the best economic model for us. We've got tons of people that are just screaming every day, wanting us to come to different areas, open additional stores, even in Cabarrus county, we got people want us to come to downtown Kannapolis with all the growth going on up there. So, you know, we've chose to kind of try to keep a thumb on that a little bit. Again there's three gentlemen together that own the business and so we're not looking at this point, at least to be, you know, spreading that out too far and franchising or anything crazy like that. So we definitely want to grow at a speed that we feel like we can continue to maintain the quality that we've been able to produce.  
What are some  
that's hard.  
I'm sorry. I mean to interrupt. But what are some challenges you guys have faced specifically?  
Oh, gosh. Right off the bat staffing, of course, is just really amazing to me. I mean, I've got over 20 years in this industry and I've worked for a lot of different companies I've been involved with a lot of organizations were extremely financially successful. We have the financial resources to recruit good qualified people is just that we can't find the workforce. I don't know how else to answer it. You know, we're hiring for management positions. I mean, very good paying positions at all four stores, and we get applicants at times. By the time we filter out 90% of them that aren't qualified or can't pass a basic background check or something like that, then you know we just don't have enough left. So I think staffing is the biggest issue. We actually have two of our owners right now that are sharing the general manager position at the Gastonia store because we just don't have a general manager in that spot at this point. So staffing.  
If I could get really real for a second. I've known several restaurant tours, and also I was actually back in a different life. I was a worked for an advertising agency and we had a client that was a restaurateur. And his biggest problem was he couldn't find employees that could pass the drug test.  
It seems like in the food industry that's commonplace.  
It is. It is, and I mean, we all joke about it. People ask me what my job is. I tell him I'm a day care of psychiatric counselor support group of any kind that you want to mention, You know, we try to be a close knit family. We try to accept, you know, it's a different time. I mean, you know, things change. Workforce changes, their expectations change and of course, the customers expectation changes. So we just try to merge all that together and be able to produce a good quality product and out beat the competition on service.  
But I think you just identified another partnership for you guys. With Cabarrus Brewing is you could have like group therapy and just everybody
Get beer and barbecue.
Get beer and barbecue and have it over at Cabarrus Brewing and
I think it would be, ah, much bigger group than just The Smoke Pit and us I do know, you know, workforce development is one of the biggest obstacles to continued growth here in Cabarrus County. You know, having been very involved with a CVB and the chamber here in Cabarrus County. That is priority number one and especially in regards to the hospitality business, which I view both The Smoke Pit and Cabarrus Brewing to be very much important.  
Finding good people, qualified people and again it's and and I know The Smoke Pit and Alan feel this way. You know, when you hire somebody, they represent your brand  
And you know, you want that person to really put the best face on what you do for your customers, and for us, that's a huge part of what we want to do is, and not that we've done a poor job. But again, in my mind, everything we've done to date, we can do a lot better. And that's a part of bringing people in, training them, qualifying them, creating a culture where the customer is number one. And that's the priority. Those people are hard to find. Not that they aren't out there. They're hard to find, and you have to find the right people that are willing to be coached. You know, there's a lot of people. They're just looking for a paycheck. But are there people there that you want representing your brand and representing your company in the way you want your customers to perceive it? And I know that it's very important for us. I know how important it is to The Smoke Pit, only that I remember having a detailed conversation with Joey that one time about us selling some brisket, and he said, If you don't cut it right, I am not gonna put it anywhere near you and  just how important it is that you know how to slice a piece of brisket that tells me how important (Inaudible). It's huge! I said, Please teach me. Yes, I want to slice brisket.
(inaudible) at the equivalent of how to pour a beer?
Oh, yeah, absolutely got had that right amount of head.
Exactly.  So not to get into a national political conversation.
Let's not go there.
But nationally, unemployment is that, like 3.9%. I'm not sure what it is locally, but I'm usually Cabarrus County is under the national.
It's as low as it gets.  
So statistically, everybody who wants a job has a job, right, which makes it that much harder for you guys to find good work pretty much have to steal it for somebody else if you, can find.
Well, I think you know, for us there's different types of positions. Obviously, there are is the more skilled technical position, whether it's brewing, packaging, even distribution, you know, in terms of driving and we have sales people. For us, you know the number of people that we need most in terms of number is our bar staff and hospitality staff. You know, whether they're running food or busing tables or whatnot. And I think for us, you know, we'd love to have a big group of people who have day jobs or have other positions and want to come to this and have fun. I mean, when we opened our doors, we had about 16 bartenders, and it was interesting because a lot of them had come from completely different backgrounds. A lot of other students, we had one gentleman and, you know, he was probably one of my favorite staff. Was, ah, retired parole officer. And it was amazing, You know, the experience and insight he gave to the younger staff not about how to tend bar because he never tend bar before but about life and unfortunately, he passed away recently from a heart attack. But again, that's the kind of environment you would love to create, where you have a very diverse workforce of varying backgrounds that really just have a passion for serving people, a passion for beer and hopefully a passion for our community, and then kind of teach them and coach them and encourage them, to convey that across. So it's not that they're hard to find. I think we put it out there. We say, guys, come, come have a good time with it. You know, we're not necessary looking for professional bartender's. Not that we don't have a problem with those a lot of um we have, but at same time, that's kind of part of this culture. How do you create that culture of, you know, just A enjoy what you do? I mean, it is beer, for God's sakes. Just enjoy it and do it well.  
The generation these days to one thing that gets me is their lack of the ability to communicate with people with their voice.
Not in the text.  
Right Right, not on text and not on Snapchat So you know, for us, obviously, that's very important. And I have to mention our successful catering operation, which I'm very proud of and I try to get through staff's heads that these are, you know, if you're doing someone's wedding reception, that is, for all intents, a once in a lifetime thing, and you don't get a do over and you know how important that is.
Half the time anyways.
Right and teaching an 18 to 25 year old, you know, to assume that kind of responsibility and take that kind of pride in what they do. I mean, it's it's rough.
It`s hard, but you're doing Alan again.
I'll try. It's a non stop effort.  
You do a lot of events at our place, and everybody's always very, very professional and very courteous.
Fantastic, I hope so.
It's like you said, You know, it may be their 25th event this month and they're worn out, but this person's big day  
It's the day they've been looking forward to for six months or a year, however long or their entire life. And it's important that you make it feel special.  
I think that's what you want to do. Every time a customer walks in the door, you have no idea that this is the first time they've been there the 50th time. You also have no idea why are they coming out today? You know, has it been a good day has been a bad day. Just make every interaction with the customer, whether it's in our location and a restaurant, hopefully serving our beer somewhere as positive as you can, as you can possibly make it. And I also feel it's important that our own people treat their  
Coworkers! No different than a customer. And we have kind of, you know, four objectives or guiding principles or whatever you want to say it. And one of it, you know, the first one obviously, is that everything revolves around the customer. The second one is we treat or we work as a team. And the third is we treat each other as team members, no different than our customers. So I think that's a big part of, you know, success and creating that culture and expectation and so on and so forth.
I was at a press conference the other day and Greg Walter, general manager of the Speedway, was talking about they were going through. It's the 60th year for the Speedway, and they were going through some old stuff of Bruton Smith's. Now say what you want about Bruton Smith, but they found this old memo from when he was just clearing the dirt for the Speedway 60 years ago, more than 60 years ago, and just to kind of piggy back when you're saying the basic gist of the memo was. This has to be about the people. It has to be about the fans if it's not about the fans, then we're wasting our time. And I think that that speaks for whoever is going into business. I think that's a great piece of advice it's about your customers. If if you are not about your customers, you're wasting your time and you're wasting there's too.
There's no question, and I do. I give kudos to Bruton Smith and the speedway. I mean, every time I drive through the tunnel that says thank you fans. And when we brewed that first batch of 600 Ale for them, you know, it's kind of funny on the bottom of every can you put a code and we always try to get creative. You know, whether you know, men like blonde or whatever. I don't, well we asked him. What do you want to put on the cans? And without hesitation? Greg Walter said, Thank you fans. That's critical. And again, it's the customer who keeps the light on.  
Yeah, absolutely.
And everything you do has to be geared towards the customer has to be giving them everything you've got and again like I said, our own people, were all customers of each other. So that's a major part of any business and business success. And I know the Smoke Pits done it, and I hope we just keep trying to do it better than we have in the past.
Yeah, when you're lucky enough to get started on a great foot like, thankfully, both of us have. Steve, you have to make sure that you're keeping pace with changes and, you know, customer's needs change. And of course, the economy changes in all of that. But the most important thing is you gotta have customers either coming in your door ordering your product. Whatever your application is, so you have to constantly reevaluate and make sure that you're making changes as you see fit.  
No question.  
I'm gonna have to let that be the last word because I am out of time. Steve Steinbacher, Alan Bishop from Cabarrus Brewing and The Smoke Pit. Thank you guys so much for coming in today.  
Thank you, Jason.  
Glad to be here. Thanks.  
Enjoyed the conversation. You guys stick around. We will be back to wrap up the show in just a moment
Once again, I want to thank Steve Steinbacher and Alan Bishop for coming in to the studio today. I feel like we have some real discussion about what it takes to run a successful business in Cabarrus County. It's not easy. I know. Sometimes guys like Steve and Alan they make it look easy, you know, you see, people are constantly in their establishments. There's a line always out the door it's The Smoke Pit. Cabarrus Brewing is never short of customers, but that's not necessarily the way it always is. That's just the perception, and they have to make adjustments just like everyone else and so I appreciate them being candid about what it takes to remain successful in this day and age. I encourage you to support them, as I always do. Encourage you to support our sponsors. Guys like Steve and Alan are doing a lot towards helping our community. And so we certainly commend them on that, Having been in business for myself with Cabarrus Magazine for almost 20 years and even longer if you include my previous life with an advertising agency, I can tell you that this community is sometimes not easy to do business with. I know that we all love to say that we support each other, but there are things that we could do better. There are things are municipalities could do better to help support local business. And that could be a simple is doing business with local businesses. You know, we always hear the term shop local and I think now at this point it kind of goes in one ear and out the other, people hear it. Oh, yeah, yeah, I want to support local. But at the end of the day, when something is $2 cheaper on Amazon. I'm gonna buy it off Amazon. Even though the guy down the street has the same exact product, I could get it right now, I'm willing to get free shipping, and and I'm not judging you on that. I do it too. Okay? I buy off Amazon just as much as the next person. So especially around Christmas time. I think they come by our house just about every day. So I'm not necessarily judging that. But what I am saying is we could make a conscious effort just a little bit to make sure that we are supporting local businesses, that we are supporting local entrepreneurs. We always think of the Amazons and the Walmarts in the large employers as these pillars of the U. S. Economy that are keeping things held up. But did you know that 98% of American businesses are small businesses? 98%. What happens if those 98% go away? I would hate to see that day, so I encourage you shop local when you can support those that are supporting this community. Support our sponsors support people like Steve and Alan. If we could all make sure that we're doing business with each other. This community will be stronger for it. That's about all the time I have for today. Next week we're gonna be talking about Valentine's on a budget. I know it just seems like we just got done with Christmas, but Valentine's is only a couple of weeks away. And guys, if you have not made plans for this yet, you need to start thinking about it. And I know that not everybody has deep pockets, especially after the holidays. So we're gonna talk to some people in the community that can help us hit a home run on Valentine's Day, but not break the bank. So make sure you tune in for that one. Once again, I want to thank our sponsors. Atlantic Bay Mortgage, Cabarrus Arena and Events Center, Cabarrus Eye Center, CERTEC Automotive, Code Ninjas, Concord Downtown Development Corporation, Family Wealth Partners, Merle Norman Cosmetics and Edie`s Salon, and your CBD Store of Concord. Please remember always to support those that support us. I'm your host, Jason Huddle, go enjoy some beer and barbecue. Unless you're under 21 then just the barbecue.

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