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Otter & Oak invites you to explore our passion for fashion, community, and creativity. Our blog is a place to learn about our apparel lines, upcoming sales, and fashion tips.

I never understood how hard it is for a small business to flourish in today’s world, until I started working for one. Locally owned shops are forced into competition with local chain and big box stores and the entire internet. By virtue of their size, the big guys get all of the perks. There are the tax breaks, the ability to buy merchandise in such volume that they get a lower price on items, and the ability to tap into their corporation’s large advertising budget. This means the bigger stores may sometimes be able to offer lower prices. However, small businesses have much more to offer overall.

shop local

Small Businesses have the luxury of human contact. They know what their customers want, because they actually KNOW their customers. When you walk in their door, they may know you by name, by your order, or maybe just by your smile. But because of that recognition, small business owners will go that extra mile to make sure you leave their business a satisfied customer. Want something they don’t have? They will often find it for you. Want a color that isn’t in stock? They can get that, too.

Local businesses are also invested in the community. These are the places that will buy an ad in the school yearbook, or support a little league team. They want the community to grow and thrive, because that means their customer base will thrive, too. It’s a symbiotic relationship that benefits everyone.

Finally, small businesses keep prices reasonable. A big store with no competition can charge the customer as much as they want, and depending on that person’s needs, they may be forced to pay it. When you have several small businesses providing the same products or services, everyone has to keep their customer service high quality and their prices affordable, or people can (and will!) go somewhere else.

So the truth is, supporting small businesses does a lot more for your community than you ever realized. It keeps local people employed. It keeps services conveniently nearby. And it acts as a system of checks and balances to keep inflated prices at bay. In short, if you want to improve the big picture, sometimes you just need to think small! ~Jackie Farley

thanks for supporting this small business

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Updated: Apr 9

Birkenstock Sandals

Many years ago, when I was straight out of college and working more than 40 hours a week in retail, I developed the dreaded heel spur. The medical profession calls it plantar fasciitis, but I called it torture! Desperate, I went to a doctor, convinced I would have to have cortisone injections in my feet.

My doctor looked at my pretty, blue sequined flip flops and told me that a lot of my problem was my shoes. They were cute, they showed off my pedicure, but they were offering me no arch support. To add injury to insult, with every step I took, my flip flops were smacking against my heel. It was adding to the inflammation.

The doctor suggested different exercises for my feet, wearing athletic shoes for work and alternating them every few days… and then he recommended Birkenstocks.

The first day I wore my first pair of Birks, I couldn’t understand what all of the fuss was about. They were ok, but the foot bed of the shoes felt odd. Then I did some research, and discovered that the bed of the shoe takes a day or two to conform to the contours of your foot. So I wore them around the house for a few hours. By day three, I was a lifetime convert!

Birkenstocks not only have a foot bed that supports your arch, they are also designed in such a way that the soles of the shoe don’t slap against the bottom of your foot. They are the most comfortable shoes ever! I have about 8 (ok, more like 14) pairs of them now. I usually try to treat myself to a new style every summer. I even have Birkenstock clogs for cold weather.

birkenstock flip flops

Birkenstocks now come in a wide variety of styles, colors, and price ranges. And while some of them can be a bit pricey, they all seem to last a really long time! I still have my first pair, which are now more than 15 years old.

For the record, I followed my doctor’s suggestions. I did the foot exercises and ditched the flip flops, and I haven’t had any pain from my heel spur in years! So if you have foot problems, or even if you just want to prevent them, I highly recommend trying a pair of Birkenstocks. I’m currently shopping for my next pair. ~ Jackie Farley

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Updated: Jul 8

Can you believe that it’s almost Christmas? It seems like this year has flown by! The official holiday shopping season starts soon and there are a couple of “big” shopping days. One of those days is near and dear to our hearts. It’s Small Business Saturday on November 30, 2019.

And I know what you are thinking, what’s the big deal about Small Business Saturday? Small Business Saturday began in 2010 to draw attention to small businesses during the busy Thanksgiving shopping weekend. The impact you have on your community by shopping small is outstanding. By shopping locally you strengthen your economy, create better jobs, get better service, and help keep your local community unique.

As an integral part of the community, local businesses see the value of supporting local schools, libraries, sports and non-profit organizations. They are more likely to donate time and money to support local education and enrichment. Small businesses are often manned by their owners or by residents. When you shop locally, you help create jobs for your neighbors. These combined financial contributions help to strengthen the local economy.

Small businesses are able to give better service since they work to serve the local community. The people working at these businesses are a part of the community and get to know their customers and their products. They are able to make buying decisions and carry a wider array of products based on input from customers.

Where we shop, eat and play makes our community unique. Our one-of a kind businesses are a part of the distinct character of Hinton. Our town is one of a few across the U.S. that still boasts of a soda fountain, and locally owned restaurants and stores with an Appalachian flare and hospitality. When you shop local, you support your community and ensure these special businesses will be around for future generations to enjoy.

When you shop small, you make a big difference.

Show your love for small businesses

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