Monday, September 20, 2010

Shop Local with $20 on the 20th

One place you can sometimes find me early in the mornings sweeping the leaves away from our front door at Ornamentea. Because of other duties, I don't get to do this every day and I consider this task a bit of a luxury. Yeah, I know that sounds odd. Sweeping a luxury? It is. Really. When I am sweeping I think of all the small shop owners in the history of bead shops, bakeries and commerce in general who have started their day by clearing the path to their shops. I am a baker in Marseille, a seamstress on High Street, a haberdasher on Newberry Street.  I think of preparing the space for my customers, making an environment that energizes and encourages them to be their best creative selves. Sweeping the path to my door is medatative and calming and helps me focus on why I do what I do.

The economy over the last few years has made it tough on all us dreamy, sweepy shop owners. We open the doors to our little local shops daily but have to compete more and more with large, national chains and on line retailers*. This is a shame: as locally-based retailers we give so much more back to our communities than the big chains. For every $100 spent with a locally-based merchant, $68 comes back to the community via taxes, payroll and services. When you spend that same $100 with a chain only $43 comes back home to pave your streets, pay your school teachers and employ your friends**. We small merchants contribute to our local economy without tax incentives to locate our businesses here, or ribbon cutting ceremonies featuring prominent politicians. We locate our businesses here because we live here. Our children play in the parks, we drive on the streets, we need the police departments and fire fighters. Our money is spent here too; we have local accountants, local hairdressers, local landlords. We are your neighbors and friends.

Now, I know you are busy and sometimes you just have to get a roll of toilet paper and some light bulbs and a mop and get on with your day. I have those days, too. To help us all remember to shop locally, the folks at Shop Local Raleigh have created the $20 on the 20th campaign. It's easy, just spend $20 at a local store you like on the 20th of each month. It doesn't have to be splurgy items; those light bulbs and toilet paper? You can get those at Burke Brother's Hardware. As a special bonus for you, my crafty Raleigh friend, you can also wander their aisles and find all kinds of tools and do-dads you need. It's way better than super mega ultramart.

*yes, I know we have a website and sometimes WE compete with other local bead stores in other towns. this is a dog-eat-dog conundrum that worries me.I'll write more later about how I try to make this even out a bit...but please let me know what you think in the comments after this post.
**source, the 3/50 project