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Each town in Wyoming has a unique charm. This isn’t because of the building colors or how many stoplights there are; it’s because of the community. Local shops – from clothing stores to bakeries to your local accountant – are an important contribution to a town’s sense of community. They help to make up the culture and character that identifies our towns. Because of this, connections with your customers can be incredibly valuable.  Running a small business that fosters a sense of community and gives back to your area can help set your business apart.

Many small businesses throughout the Cowboy state are already working to cultivate a spirit of community. Cheyenne’s Paramount Coffee, which was originally a theater, features local artists and musicians so visitors to the café can enjoy the work of their friends and neighbors. The coffee shop includes a gallery for local artists to display their work and hosts open mic nights that are free for musicians and the public. Another coffee shop, The Pour House in Casper, writes on its website that “we love coffee, but we love people and relationships more.” The website states that the shop was created to better the community, so the café partners with businesses, non-profit organizations and city entities to build stronger relationships. Through hosting events, trivia nights, reading groups and children’s story hours, The Pour House hopes to create opportunities for people to further engage in the community.

A family farm near Lingle also creates unique experiences that bring communities together. Ellis’ Harvest Home is a produce farm that offers a family-friendly pumpkin patch and corn maze in the fall. By hosting these harvest activities, Ellis’ gives community members a chance to bond with each other and get a closer look at the farm. Farther southeast in Goshen County, Table Mountain Vineyards expanded the traditionally limited customer base to also provide activities for families. The winery offers art classes and hosts a concert with Wyoming-based artists. Incorporating family-friendly crafts and activities can be a creative way to reach new customers and form a connection with folks in your community.  

Many businesses give back to their communities by sponsoring local youth sports teams, participating in charity events or contributing to local non-profit organizations. Some businesses may offer mentoring or job-skills training programs for people in the area. Luckily, you do not have to make huge donations or host large events to make a difference. Small contributions add up over time and certainly make a difference to those in your community. A simple collection jar near the register for customers to contribute to a particular local cause can go a long way.

Being active in the community offers an important human quality to your business that larger businesses can miss out on. It shows a commitment to your neighbors and customers and makes the town an even better place to live. There are countless ways to serve your community – I hope you will consider ways to help build a sense of togetherness in yours.