Tuesday, November 22, 2016

5 Reasons You Should Support Local Small Business

Tucked between the craziness of Black Friday and Cyber Monday is Small Business Saturday. American Express started it back in 2010 as an initiative to support small, local businesses. I think it can sometimes get lost by its bigger cousins to the right and left. Not all small businesses can support the deep discounts that large box stores can offer nor might they have the extensive selection but what they lack, they make up for in customer service, a personal shopping experience and supporting the community you live. Last year 95 million people supported small businesses as part of Small Business Saturday and there is estimated to be a 10% increase this year.

I know many support small businesses either through their local community or online communities such as Etsy. Right now is a really great time to have a small business. More emphasis is being put on shopping local and supporting "real" people than ever before.  Here's five reasons you should be supporting local, small businesses.

Product Diversity

While box stores have their place, small businesses have the flexibility to offer a wider range of unique offerings. I especially like to shop local for gifts. Often times, these items could be local sourced or crafted. You might find a new company you've never heard of or find up and coming trends before they hit the big chains. Products will often be of a better quality than what you would find in box stores.

Small Businesses Give Back

More money stays within the community when you buy local vs large corporations. Small businesses are also more willing to give money to the community to support local causes.

"Small businesses deliver community character and economic advantages to the town they are positioned in, but also strengthen partnerships among neighbors, residents, other small business owners, community leaders and even schools by offering social and economic relationships. Many also support local causes, creating even more good within a community." (source)


Personalized Shopping Experience

Chain stores are great for when you want to pop in a get that one item that you need but if you're looking for something special or maybe you want some advice on something, small businesses offer personalized service that you just won't find at a big box store. Also, if you do happen to have a problem with a product, you're more likely to get a more personal response. Small business employees tend to be more knowledgeable about their product offerings. If you wanted to know advice on gardening, would you head to Home Depot or your local gardening shop? Your business matters to small businesses.

Environmental Impacts

"Local stores help to sustain vibrant, compact, walkable town centers-which in turn are essential to reducing sprawl, automobile use, habitat loss, and air and water pollution." (source) Small businesses help keep communities unique and one of a kind. Small businesses can also improve your health when you buy foods from local farmers and co-ops. The produce has traveled less distance and is usually farmed without pesticides.

Create Jobs

Small businesses are the largest employer nationally.
  • Make up more than 99.7% of all employers.
  • Create more than 50% of the non-farm private gross domestic product (GDP).
  • Make up 97% of exporters and produce 29 percent of all export value. (source)
"Fundera is helping to support the growth of small businesses by providing capitol. Visit their post about supporting Small Business Saturday to learn more. If you own a small business or are thinking of starting one, check out Fundera for their small business loans.

Some of my favorite local small businesses:

-Bella Funk, a small boutique owned by two sisters with a great mix of national brands and local artisans.
-Just L, the cutest store with a focus on mid-century modern furniture and goods.
-Baliwicks, for a good drink and great dining atmosphere.
-Littleton Food Coop has a great mix of grocery store items and speciality foods. All produce and many other items are locally sourced. They are in the process of expanding too!
-Pentimento is the place to go for that special gift. They have a great selection of jewelry and cards.

How do you support small businesses?

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

What I've Been Up To

It's been awhile since I've sat down and talked about anything. September and October were busy months around here both work and life wise. Lots of travel and just enjoying life.

Bar Harbor, ME












Sorry for the photo dump but Bar Harbor was just so photogenic. We chose to take a long weekend and visit Bar Harbor for our ten year anniversary. It's a place that has been on my list for a while but it's one of those places that's a little too far to visit in a day. If you have a chance to go, do it! I fell in love with Bar Harbor and Acadia, really just the whole island. I was surprised how busy it still was there since it was past peak time and some businesses were closed but it was nice that there was still stuff going on. 

Our first stop on our arrival Friday afternoon (I was planning on being there earlier than that but someone wasn't into my early start time) was to Jordan Pond. They have a nice 3 mile-ish walk that goes around the lake and loops back to the house. I thought it wouldn't take that long since it was flat but we took our time and it ended up taking us a couple hours. We had lunch at the Jordan Pond House and had their famous popovers. Even at 3 in the afternoon, we still had to wait for an outdoor table. We had dinner at some random restaurant which I wasn't too impressed with.

Saturday we started bright and early with breakfast at this cute cafe near the town square. There were a couple brunch spots I wanted to try but both mornings we went by, there were lines out the door. We knew we wanted to rent some bikes to bike around the carriage roads in Acadia. The carriage roads are motor free so only foot, bike or horse travel. We had originally wanted to rent some scooters but they were done for the season. We thought we were going to do a 12 mile moderate ride for people like me that hadn't rode a bike in probably 15 years. Somewhere along the way we got turned around and ended up doing the trail backwards and instead of going down hill, were going uphill quite often. We ended up doing 20 miles and let me tell you, my lady bits were hurting by the end of it. This was my very favorite part of the trip and really just the best day. 

We also visited Sand Beach and did the Park Loop Road part of Acadia and made our way to Bass Head Harbor Lighthouse. We watched the sunset at the top of Cadillac since it was going to rain Sunday morning. We had a really good dinner at Geddy's and some ice cream at the Emporium. I had grand plans of hikes but after the 20 mile bike ride, that was out of the question. All the more reason to plan a trip back because Acadia is known for its hiking.

If you want any rec's, just ask. I'm being lazy and not linking anything or taking the time to look up proper names. 

Boston





We went on our annual trip to Boston for Errol's birthday and his annual work function. I flew out of Boston the next morning to go to Arizona for a work trip. At his work function they do a whole bunch of raffle giveaways like a new truck, a car, an Indian motorcycle and lots of other stuff. Errol ending up winning two box seat tickets to a Bruins game so we were back there last weekend for that. I've never watched a hockey game in my life and they totally sucked (like losing 5-1 suck) but it was a fun experience. We also visited the Museum of Science since I hadn't been there since a fifth grade field trip. It was kind of kid oriented but still interesting.

Race Car Driving



For Errol's birthday, I gave him a 20 lap race car driving experience. I knew it would be something he'd enjoy but probably never ever do for himself. He did really good and ended up passing the other two cars and one of them twice! They only let three cars on the track at a time so no accidents happen. He said that it seemed like you were going faster than you actually probably were. 

Phoenix, AZ


I was asked to attend another ECRM event for my company. This was was focused on Beauty and Personal Care and had companies in that area who were looking for contract manufacturers. We made some good contacts and had 35 meetings in less than two days. The first night they had a western theme with bull riding, cow roping and a shoot out. I had way too much fun participating in everything. I'm lucky that my manager takes part and encourages the fun as well. It was a whirlwind trip so I didn't get to see anything of Phoenix. Arizona was way better than I had pictured it. It was never on my list of must see states but after this short trip, I'm interested in seeing more.

Hiking





I finally got out for a hike with one of my friends. We did Cannon which is a 4000 footer but we cheated because Cannon also has a tram so we took that down. Good thing we planned that all along because the last half of the hike was in the rain. It would have been dangerous to hike down the wet and slippery rocks. I forgot how much I love hiking and being in the mountains. 

Randoms 
















Haircuts (chopped a good 6-7 inches off), voting (don't wanna talk about it), tie dying again, Chitty cuddles, being a crazy cat lady with the shirt to prove it, favorite author reading, foliage appreciating and our first snow. That about sums up the last couple of months.

What have you been up to?
 
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