No small business is an island. Every business depends on the goods and services of other businesses. Distributors specifically can be valuable small business partners if you utilize their full potential. You'll remember our two friends from our previous article "Five Buck Chuck" and "No Slip Chip." They each have different perspectives on their cafe's role in the business ecosystem, specifically when relating to wholesale distributors.Chuck, as you may recall, spends several hours each week running to and from a large wholesale supplier. He receives a couple of small deliveries for milk products and baked goods each week, otherwise he retrieves supplies himself on his own time. He wants to save as much money as possible so he rarely researches new products that could be used or sold in his cafe. For this reason, his menu rarely changes and many of his products have become outdated.Chip, on the other hand, has a healthy relationship with his various vendors. He uses a couple different companies but has one that delivers most of his supplies once a week. He rarely has to worry about adjusting his orders, and when he does, he is ordering more of a product that is selling better than he expected. Unless the cafe is overwhelmingly busy, he gladly talks with his vendors when they call or visit and thoughtfully considers the products they present.Here is why Chip places value on his relationship with small distributors.