FeaturedEat & Shop Local Like It’s Your Job – Because It Is!

Eat & Shop Local Like It’s Your Job – Because It Is!

In my youth, my whole goal in life was to live in a hip, urban neighborhood. One filled with history, beautiful buildings, events, arts, great restaurants, and boutique stores. I envisioned myself living blissfully car-free, riding my bike everywhere, soaking in the culture, and hanging out at a local coffee shop with my F-R-I-E-N-D-S! Eventually, my husband and I were fortunate enough to discover a fixer-upper with tons of potential. For a blissful decade we enjoyed working on house projects, and spending our kid-free discretionary income at local venues and shops.

 

At the time, I felt guilty about the money I could have been saving by dining out and shopping less. I didn’t realize that I was filling an important role in revitalizing my community. By restoring a historic building I was reintroducing energy to my neighborhood and city. By shopping locally, my dollars were funding the local food/art/culture scene that made our urban neighborhood unique.

 

Fast forward to my 40’s, suddenly with two kids as the CEO of a design firm. I find myself cash-flush and time-poor. Like a hermit, I retreat daily to my now complete historic abode, lacking the energy to go out! It doesn’t help that my feral children are impossible to take to restaurants – and babysitters have become unicorns (they apparently don’t exist anymore). It’s just easier to plan ahead, cook a quick meal, and then have leftovers for lunch the next day. Making coffee at home in the morning is essential because I need liquid motivation to herd the cats – I mean kids – to get ready and off to school in the morning. Shopping for pleasure has also fallen by the wayside, replaced with the convenience of Instacart and Amazon.

 

I’ll have to admit, for a brief moment I was patting myself on the back for “saving so much money”! I was blissfully ignorant, thinking that my time-saving and penny-hoarding was a net gain. It wasn’t until one recent Sunday when the kids were visiting their grandparents that I realized our downtown had become a ghost town. Many of the restaurants we used to frequent had reduced hours and some of my favorite shops were gone. What happened? Was it COVID? Or was it because I and my peers thought we were better off by not dining and shopping locally? Now, when we desperately need a night out, or a last minute item, we find these businesses are nearly gone.

A little restaurant next to my house had closed and I realized the error of my ways. This spot was my go-to for the occasional meal planning fail, or back-to-back kids’ sports nights when I needed the convenience of a ready-made dinner just steps from my door.  
 
Local and independent businesses exist in a very delicate ecosystem, unlike the chain restaurants clustered around freeway off ramps and suburban shopping centers. These unique gems are wholly dependent on locals for their survival. And unlike those chain or online stores, the dollars spent at these restaurants largely go back into the surrounding community. Additionally, the sales taxes support your local government and help provide essential public services and amenities!  
 
The thing is, if we want to live in a hip, urban neighborhood, then it’s literally our job to eat out, meet friends for coffee, and support the cute little shops! Plan for it, budget for it, and most importantly enjoy it! It’s not a waste of money. Supporting local businesses will buoy up your local economy and increase property values. It creates a positive feedback loop that reinvests in your unique place. So what are you waiting for?! Get out there and have some guilt-free fun in your neighborhood.
 

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