Friday, May 14, 2010

Staying Local

Let me tell you about one of my favorite local shops, Urban Lily. I'm a huge advocate of shopping locally, and Urban Lily is one of Michiana's secret treasures. The owner, Amanda, has fabulous taste and fills her shop with beautiful, unique, handmade and vintage finds. I went there last week looking for a Mother's Day gift for my mom.

My mom is crazy about her KitchenAid mixer (she even put flame decals on it - hers is black though), and when she bakes, which is all the time, she whips up 100 cookies like it's nothin'. Would you believe it - she hasn't had a cookie jar! I’ve been looking for an attractive cookie jar that is big enough for her batches, and I’ve had a surprisingly hard time finding one that is just right. Etsy was the first place I looked, but I couldn't find one big enough that I could afford. I was so happy to find the perfect "cookie jar" at Urban Lily. It is a huge, dark wooden bowl with a lid, and the whole thing is covered in beautiful carved swirls. I am not sure if it's meant to be a cookie jar (probably not), but it really is perfect for my mom.

While I was browsing Amanda's shop, I saw some adorable postcards and thought of Micaela. They are from Paper Relics, a company Amanda found though The Switchboards {“Connecting creative women in business since 2004”}. I can't believe I’ve never heard of this website! So, anyways, I picked up a few post cards for Micaela and a few to send out with my orders.

Last week's trip to Urban Lily was extremely productive. I was able to get birthday gifts for my lil sister, a Mother's Day gift for Mom and some post cards for Micaela and myself, all right here in town in a little independent business.

Why am I so hooked on shopping locally? Shopping at local, independent businesses helps your local economy, gets you personalized customer service from people who care about and love their business, and is a great way to find unique, high quality gifts that you can take home TODAY.

Keeping your money local is not hard to do, just be CONSCIOUS of where you’re shopping. Michael H. Shuman, author of the book Going Local, said, "Going local does not mean walling off the outside world. It means nurturing locally owned businesses which use local resources sustainably, employ local workers at decent wages and serve primarily local consumers. It means becoming more self-sufficient and less dependent on imports. Control moves from the boardrooms of distant corporations and back into the community where it belongs." Understand? Good. According to the Andersonville Study of Retail Economics, if you spend $100 at a local business, $68 stays in your community. If you spend $100 at a non-local business (national chain stores), only $43 stays in your community. Simple as that.

How about some awesome customer service?! When shopping for a gift for Boss' Day at The Mole Hole last year, after helping me find the perfect gift, the owner spent at least 30 minutes talking to me about his shop, other local shops, the artist who made the gift I bought, etc. Before I knew it we were talking about scuba diving in the Bahamas and going to the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago, and I was almost late getting back to work! It felt good to get to know the owner and learn a little bit about his business and interests.
Another example of some above and beyond customer service is what Amanda did for me last weekend. I got a couple little things for my sister's birthday, but I also wanted to get her a gift certificate so she would check out the shop and pick out some things for herself. Amanda was happy to do a gift certificate, but warned me that she plans on moving to a different location (still in town, of course) sometime this year. She was worried about my sister showing up only to find that the store isn't there anymore. Luckily, she won't be moving anytime within the next month or so, and I explained to her that we don't keep play money in our pockets that long. Kassie will be in there within a month. I asked her about her new hours, and she asked what day of the week my sister would be most likely to go shopping. When I told her that my sister just had a baby, and that everything depends on what he wants to do right now, Amanda was quick to write her cell number on the receipt. "If the store is closed, just have her call me," she said. She lives right around the corner and said she'd be happy to open up the shop so my sister could look around. I was floored! What a sweet thing to do!! I heart Urban Lily.

Another thing I love about my area's local businesses is the unique gifts I can find (for others and myself). Urban Lily, for example, has a lot of great items that are handmade by some of Amanda's friends and other local artists. Circa Arts is also a great place to go when looking for locally handmade goodies. Last year, Matt and I found a wine bottle cheese platter for his mom there. I loved that the tag on the bottle had the name and phone number of the lady who made it. It makes that gift feel even more special when you know it was handcrafted by someone AND that someone is in your own community. Remember the cocoa leaf lamp I saw on my first bike ride to work this year? That was at Backyards, a very cool local business that carries unique indoor and outdoor furniture and d├ęcor that I would never find on my own. Stores like Urban Lily, Circa Arts, and Backyards are just a few examples of my area’s local treasures.

If you want to show support for independent businesses in your area, the best thing to do is visit them and visit them often. I try to spread the word about The 3/50 Project every time I get the opportunity. The whole idea behind the project is to pick 3 local independent businesses and spend $50 a month. Even if you don’t spend $150 or even $50 a month in local businesses, as long as you’re shopping local whenever you have the option, you’re doing well and should feel good about it.

Matt and I shop local ALL THE TIME. We avoid places such as Wal-Mart like the plague and always opt for thrift or local independent shops before going anywhere else (of course, if I have time to order, Etsy is my main source, but that’s another day’s topic). I’d even go so far as to say that we’re just about at 98% when it comes to eating local when we go out (we have a Burger King weakness). I won’t even get started on the food part today though; I’m sure you’ve had your fill of my “shop local” rant for one day.

If you do want more…here are a few links:

ShoLo (my county’s campaign for local businesses) Does your area have something similar?

Putting Wal-Mart’s Green Moves In Context
P.S. While I’m on the topic of shopping: Don’t forget – reusable bags aren’t just for the grocery store! Use them EVERYWHERE you shop. Don’t have a reusable bag yet? Etsy is loaded with sellers offering upcycled and new shopping bags. ; )

I’ve been behind on my blog reading – hope to catch up with all of you this weekend!! Love!

1 comment:

  1. I LOVE LOVE LOVE supporting local and THANK YOU beautiful friend for the gorgeous postcards!!! i just adore them!!!! and yes, a def. "book mark" for sure :) i can't to check out the rest!!!

    speaking of local... tomorrow i'm off (THANK GOD! i need a break from work lol esp. training) and plan to hit the local craft market... just might have to send a local something your way cos these postscards actually reminded me of something i saw there....

    coming to a mailbox near you ;) THANK YOU for the wonderful surprise!!!! if i ever get to visiting, you'll have to take me to Amanda's.

    i love that you found THE cookie jar :) so cute!!!