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Client Q&A: Brett Lamb on the Importance of Shopping at Small Businesses

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After five years of experience leading a TPA call center in North Carolina, Andrew decided to move west to explore parts unknown and follow his passion of helping others. Walking through the doors of Ubiquity Retirement + Savings, formerly The Online 401(k) for the first time, he knew he’d found something special. Continuing to delight clients and partners alike and 10 years later, Andrew has been able to develop new teams, co-found a non-profit of strategic alliances, co-produce a hard-hitting documentary about the looming retirement crisis, and still had time to spread the savings gospel far and wide. Using social media and actual media alike (Wall Street Journal, Fox Business, PlanSponsor, and more), you’ll find no one who likes talking retirement more than this guy!

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December 17, 2015 at 10:55 am
Personal Finance

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At Ubiquity Retirement + Savings, the success of the small business industry is something we’re very passionate about. That’s why we view our clients as an extension of our Ubiquity family.

Small businesses are the backbone of America, and as such, we encourage our employees, friends and family to #ShopSmall, especially during the holidays. As I discussed in this post, when you shop at local businesses, you are making a connection with your community and helping yourself at the same time!

To illustrate and humanize this concept – which is never more important than during the busy holiday shopping season – we spoke with Ubiquity client Brett Lamb, Owner of Fleet Feet Sports in our hometown of San Francisco. Brett was kind enough to take time out of his busy schedule to discuss the importance of shopping small. Check out what he had to say below.

AM: What Does Owning a Small Business Mean to You? 

BL: Owning a business to me, is about creating a career that allows me to do what I want. I am able to be creative with how I run my business, how I organize my team, what products I carry, how I promote my business, etc. I enjoy the ability to create my own destiny in life, and this is how I do that with my career.

AM: Did You Participate in any Local Small Business Saturday Events?

BL: We hosted a fun run at each of our two stores. Customers were able to try different types of running shoes without buying them. We also created different bundles of products from a few brands, so a customer could buy several products from a vendor at a reduced price. We packaged these items in gift bags or boxes to make them easy to buy as gifts.

We also have a philanthropic component to our SBS that we call One Day for the Ethembeni. We donate the profits from the day’s sales to the Ethembeni School in Durban, South Africa. This is a school that my wife and I are very fond of and fund two scholarships for students. The school is a boarding school for students with physical and visual disabilities; along with education they are provided with health care, room and board. The school is staffed by an amazing group of teachers and administrators to help students develop and grow.

AM: How did Small Business Saturday Affect You?

BL: This year was our biggest Small Biggest Saturday in history, as our foot traffic was very high at our new location on 4th & Mission.

AM: What is the Biggest Difference in Shopping at a Small Business Versus a Big One?

BL: Shopping small typically helps keep money in the community. As an example, my family and I live in San Francisco, as do all but two of our employees (those two employees are in Oakland). Not only that, but our retirement savings company, HR and medical insurance companies are all based in San Francisco.

Shopping small instead of large typically also means you are experiencing retail in a unique environment. Nothing about our store experience is scaled across the country. Our employees interact with customers uniquely and our store presentation and stock are all unique to us.

AM: How Does your Small Business Affect the Community?

BL: We do two things that impact our community through our events. Four to seven times per week we offer fun runs, boot camps or yoga (often for free) to our customers. We feature different routes and neighborhoods so our local customers and tourists can meet new people and experience the city of San Francisco. We also often include fellow small businesses by finishing our runs at a local restaurant or bar. Every Thursday evening one of our employees hosts a four mile run in SoMa that ends at a different bar each week.

AM: How do you as a Small Business Owner Stay Involved in the Community?

BL: My wife and I enjoy finding new small businesses that inspire us and challenge our own business model. Off The Grid is a great example; we often take our son to the Picnic in the Presidio and see dozens of small businesses trying new products and business models. There are many great opportunities to engage in San Francisco whether it is through other small businesses, charities, or networking events.

AM: What is the Biggest Misconception People Have When Shopping at Small Businesses?

BL: There is an outdated view of small businesses not running their shops professionally or with sophistication. In San Francisco, many small business do not offer ‘mom and pop’ experiences despite being just that. Small, locally owned businesses can, and do, offer beautiful sales floors, creative marketing and unique experiences for their customers.