What is the nature of commerce?

As both a consumer in a consumer-driven economy and an independent contractor I'm exposed to commerce every day. The exchange of goods and services is something I'm very familiar with.

What works, and what doesn't? Why do some firms – and individual contributors – last longer than others?

Commensurate Value

  • I buy whole coffee beans at either Anderson's or Texas Coffee Traders. In appearance they couldn't be more different: one a fine shop, the other the corner of a warehouse. And yet in my opinion they are the only places to get beans for the serious coffee lover. I will go out of my way and put up with poor parking (both places) to get good coffee. Highly priced? Not to me – fairly priced for the value. And each place has more than one person available to answer questions and help me. Value

Quality Choice

  • Many of the clothes I wear come from Buffalo Exchange, a resale shop right on the Drag. Why? Terrific choice, lots of it, good quality and priced right. The items turn over a lot; I could go there more than I do. And this resale shop has staff – lots of it – who are always busy sorting, hanging, cleaning, re-arranging and yes, helping. And fun: you never know what they'll be wearing. And did I mention the staff – all late teens/early 20s – actually talk to you and try to help? Choice

Ease of Business

  • Jesus is the guy I turned to for gutters recently: he quoted the job and delivered on his promise in time, date and quality of installation. And he did everything without ever having seen me. Several vendors wanted to set up personal visits, one failed to make their appointment, etc. Jesus, with strong Yelp comments, came the day he said he would, left a one-page quote and then did the job as promised after I emailed him my signed acceptance. I still don't know what he looks like – but I will be yelping him too. Easy


  • For years I've bought and serviced diesels at one VW dealership. Why? They do what they say. Diesels are more expensive to buy and some think more expensive to own. Given their fuel efficiency and environmental impact (modern diesels are cleaner than gas) I pay the up charge because a well-maintained diesel can easily attain 300,000 miles of service. Yet they have to be cared for. I go to the same place becuase they do exactly what they say, spell everything out ahead and talk to me like an adult. Every time. Consistency

Social economists will tell you there are lots of reasons we do business with one vendor vs another, some rational, others not so much. So if you plan to open your own store, factory or consultancy perhaps a good acid test for business strength might be the vendors you personally choose to do business with.

In my case value, choice, consistency and ease of business make a big difference. In thinking about my own business I have to rate myself on these same metrics and ask if I'm doing all I can to drive the commerce I need to.

Commerce is the right to do business every day based on how you performed yesterday. How are you doing?



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