by Emily Moody
The quaint facades of store fronts in your favorite neighborhood shopping district will soon be only a distant memory without the continuous support of the community. Sometimes I feel like it is beating a dead horse when discussing the importance of shopping locally. These stores offer personality, each its own. Boutiques are boutiques for a reason. These shops strive to NOT carry things you can get at the mall. That’s what sets them apart. You can walk in and talk about the products, usually because the one who ordered it is also the one helping you. The personalized service not only gains a client’s trust, but also builds a rapport with the community. Plus, according to the Anderson Study of Retail Economics, “locally-owned firms contribute more to local charities and fundraisers than do their national counterparts.”
Countless businesses support artists in our community by hanging local art. From restaurants to doctor’s offices, creative works from forward thinkers are all around you. Right now, you can walk into the 5 Points Theatre and see the works of Clay Doran. Everyone’s favorite, Burrito Gallery (if you couldn’t tell by its name) dons the walls with art each month and is an ArtWalk hotspot. In 5 Point’s boutiques you can find pieces by Jim Draper, Kristi Howell, Kim Barry and Megan Cosby, just to name a few. While showing works is great, people also should be purchasing pieces to keep these artists painting. Forget the mass produced giclee prints and opt instead to drop a couple hundred dollars more on an original, painted in your own backyard. Don’t think you can afford it? In the current state of affairs, artists are willing to work out payment plans to pay off a piece. Just communicate with the artist, s/he will most definitely understand, as that person is most likely in your boat too.
The 3/50 Project, (the350project.net) a non-profit founded by Cinda Baxter, was started with the idea of increasing awareness of the vitality of brick and mortar stores in our communities. It’s simple. Pick three of your favorite (locally owned) stores and commit to spending $50 in each, each month. Please don’t think this is a suggestion to live beyond your means. If shopping in three stores is too many, start off with one a month. But, if you are like me and don’t want to see these places close, then go in and spend a little money. Next time you need a gift, instead rushing straight to Target, why don’t you try Cowford Trader’s in Avondale, One of Each Gifts in 5 Points or the Pineapple Post at the beach? It may take a little more effort, but there you can get great gift wrapping, service and feel good about the fact that you are helping this business keep its lights on.
There are some business owners that hide their strife behind a happy face and try not to show weakness during this great storm. Staying positive is great, but that doesn’t change what is going on in today’s economy and what the future will hold. We need to open up this conversation and admit that many are struggling, then, work together to sustain our communities. Unless you want the vibrant and cultural filled areas of San Marco, the Beaches, Riverside, and everywhere in between, to disappear, your support is needed. You will see that saving a few dollars at a chain is going to come at a much higher price.
SHOPPING LOCAL KEEPS US UNIQUE
by Emily Moody