Keep Loving on Local Business

Dear Neighbors –

Maybe it’s the snow. Maybe it’s the boxes upon boxes of new goods and gifts that have been arriving for the past few weeks in the Shop. Maybe it’s the calendar switching over from October to November. No matter the reason, the holiday season is undeniably around the corner and coming up fast.

Every local retailer I know has been working and planning for this season for months. We’ve all been carefully curating our inventory to try and bring you something new, special, fresh, and familiar. We do our best to watch trends, notice what’s popular, and generally listen to you, our customers, friends, family, and neighbors, who share what you’re looking for or hoping to find. If only we had a crystal ball some days…

It’s true that we often buy for the Shop what we ourselves like or would want to receive as a gift, which means we know every product inside and out. We’ve done the research and we’ve thought about how the products we carry could integrate with your life. We imagine how they’ll spark joy, create happy memories, provide comfort, energize our spirit, or inspire creativity.

If you’re a person who loves to give a thoughtful gift or someone who loves the holiday season, all of this might sound incredibly appealing to you. We also know far too well as a local, independent brick and mortar retail business, how busy and chaotic this season can be for so many of us. If you’re reading this thinking, “Too soon! I’m not ready! It gets earlier every year!” I’m with you. This season is stressful. It’s overwhelming. It’s nonstop. There’s no denying that.

Our modern culture is entrenched in consumption and shopping, extraction, and single-use products and at times I’ve questioned our role within this seemingly endless cycle. What right do we have to send more “things” out into the world when we already have enough “stuff?” To me, this pursuit of “things for the sake of things” is what can make this season feel so draining. This year, I find myself craving connection and meaning more than anything. Maybe this sounds familiar to you?

What I’ve come to realize is that shops like ours and those of our fellow local, independent purveyors throughout the region, aren’t doing what we do to sell you “stuff” you don’t need. We’re doing it to share something we love: plants, books, art, coffee, cheese, vegetables, and more. Each of us shows up in different ways in different spaces at different times of the year for one simple reason: to make our community better.

Can we put a value on building community and improving quality of life? Can we objectify the importance of helping people build memories together? These are the questions of capitalism and business-driven thinking and while they’re part of our model (because they have to be), the answers really come from you, our neighbors, customers, friends, and supporters. When you show up for us and consciously choose to support local, independent businesses – especially this time of year – you’re casting a vote for the type of community you want to live in. Would you rather drive to endless, homogenous, faceless strip malls for your holiday shopping, or walk down the street to the little shop on the corner where the people behind the counter know your name?

Further, while ordering goods online can feel easier, if those orders don’t go to a local business, this is a vote for endless warehouses and more delivery trucks. If you’re shopping from a local retailer who happens to have the time, energy, and know-how to manage an e-commerce site in addition to our brick-and-mortar, I applaud and thank you. The reality is e-commerce is a huge lift for local, independent businesses and we’re often forced to choose between online and face-to-face: we can’t do it all. If a retailer doesn’t offer online shopping yet, there’s a reason, and we need you to support the in-person experience in the meantime. I can almost guarantee that in-person experience will be more rich, fulfilling, and meaningful, every time.

The products we feature and the spaces we create are more than simple trinkets or soul-less boxes with sprawling parking lots. Every independent local business in our community contributes to a sense a place and a feeling of home. Every business owner I know is answering the question, “What community do I want to live in?” in their own, beautiful, unique way.

Ask yourself: what type of community do you want to live in? Do you want safe, walkable neighborhoods with unique shops and experiences, places to be proud of, places to make memories, and places to share with friends? Or, do you want to keep driving to congested strip malls with faceless brands that don’t really know or care what’s happening in our community?

If you reliably shop local, thank you, sincerely. Every time you make a purchase with a local, independent business, I can guarantee the hard-earned treasure you share with us is felt and appreciated more than anywhere else. You’re allowing more people to dream, create, and invest in this place we love and call home – a shared home, really. While it may feel like a simple transaction on the surface, where and how you choose to spend your money this season (and every season) matters. A lot.

Local, independent businesses need you this season, especially as the world changes so rapidly. We want to be here next year, in three years, in ten years, and we’re banking on you to make that a reality. While us local businesses can’t force anyone to do anything, we’re each doing what we can to show you, our community of supporters, what it means to shop with us.

We understand (better than anyone) that your time is perhaps even more valuable than your dollars. While it takes effort to support local businesses, the rewards are infinite. We hope you feel our love, we hope you feel inspired to try something new, we hope we can help you create cherished memories, and we hope you come to enjoy and embrace something we ourselves also love.

This holiday season, make a plan for how you’ll support local because plans equal action, and words mean little without follow through. Stay home on Black Friday. Spend time with your friends and family. Sleep in. Take deep breaths. Make your shopping list based on the spaces and places you love in our community. Then, wake up early on Small Business Saturday, put on a cozy outfit, go out to breakfast, and make your way to those places to discover the array of things we’ve curated to share with you this season. I bet you’ll be pleasantly surprised, discover something beautiful, and leave feeling fulfilled and happy rather than exhausted and broke.

It's also worth noting you don’t need to wait until Thanksgiving to get started. Local businesses need your support and love every day, every season. We’re in a position to make dreams come true in a way big box stores simply cannot. What’s more, we want to make dreams come true. 

We’re open now, and we can’t wait to welcome you.

(Written by one of our amazing retailers - Benjamin Futa of The Botany Shop in South Bend, Indiana)

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