I live in a fairly large but close-knit neighborhood. One of the ways neighbors communicate about pretty much anything is via a Facebook group. Since I’m one of three administrators of this group, I’ve seen lots of etiquette faux pas over the years, but this one left me scratching my head.
My husband recently was laid off, and I had been thinking of ways to make a little extra money to see us through. I’ve always enjoyed canning and decided maybe I could make extra to sell. I decided to put feelers out before jumping into the endeavor and made a post to the page asking about interest in homemade jams, if I were to make some to sell. There was a surprising number of people who said they would love to purchase any jams I made. But one commenter, I will call her Joy, simply stated that she already bought locally made jams from “Company P,” and linked to their page. I was a bit confused as to her response, but didn’t think much of it.
A couple weeks later, my first batches of jams were ready. I posted to the page with availability and prices and was pleased by how quick people were to purchase a jar or two. But again, there was Joy: “Don’t forget about Company P!”
Another neighbor later posted that their fig tree was full of fruit and invited neighbors to come and share the harvest. Someone mentioned me and commented that it would be wonderful to let me make some fig jam. Not two minutes later, Joy chimes in: “Company P could make a wonderful jam with those!”
I was beginning to notice a theme: if I was mentioned, Company P would be mentioned on the same thread–or within the same conversation for those who don’t use Facebook. I’d seen it before as an admin: when one person would post a comment offering services, sometimes another person offering the same services would post shortly after as to not be “forgotten.” But I’d never seen anyone blatantly do it directly within the “opposition’s” thread.
The kicker was when I attended the monthly neighborhood Girl’s Night Out event. Always hosted in someone’s home, it is a great way to meet new people or neighbors you haven’t seen in a while. As I introduced myself to a few people I’d never met before, one lady speaks up. “You are the one who makes the jams! I’m Joy!” She then proceeds to go into lengthy detail about how she has been purchasing from Company P for years, how she just came from a 4 hour birthday party at their place, and how great her jams are. Every time someone at the event brought up my jams, there was Joy. One sweet lady said her nectarine tree was loaded and invited me to come can them, as long as she got a few jars. Joy was right there to remind us how, Company P’s owner lived in the neighborhood and that making jam was HER living. The way in which she offered her information, if you were just listening to tone, was extremely friendly.
After having multiple conversations cut off by Joy, I finally got a word in and informed her that I myself had purchased from Company P in the past and that her jams were very good. She seemed to be doing extremely well selling at local farmers markets, but I’d be more than happy to see her post on the Facebook page. I, myself, was trying to get my family through a tough time and was grateful that I could do something I loved to help out. I avoided Joy as much as possible after that and at the end of the night, she left by informing me she would tell her friend at Company P “what a nice lady you are.”
The only lesson I can share out of the experience is–while friends always appreciate word of mouth enthusiasm for their businesses–please make sure you are respecting what you perceive as their opposition. You may be creating a turf war that no one cares about but yourself. 0716-15
If you ever figure out how to make canned praline pecan “butter”, let me know.