Though I often say we currently live in a Big Town that believes it’s a Small Town, this weekend has proven I might classify it “small” thanks to local businesses. I love the networks that come from small shops and the way that I can participate in the community simply by shopping there. A brief review of the past 24 hours:

1. Strawberries from Fulton Farms. AMAZING. We’ve went twice so I can get enough to make some jam, per the husband’s request. The berries are bursting with flavor so we need to jam tonight. Then we also were able to get some flowers for out front and the last of the garden plants. 
2. Lunch at La Piazza with a friend. 
3. Stopping in Samozrejme to help sort diapers for the ReStash (so sad I missed the event – there were great deals on BumGenius!)
4. A mattress purchased from Francis, across the street from us. They were having a huge sale and beat Sam’s Club prices (I pre-shopped to have an idea). 
5. I’d hoped to stop into Stone’s Throw Market, the local coop we just joined, to pick up some spelt flour for the sourdough that’s prepping on my countertop (thanks to a local crunchy girls network). I’ll have to wait until Tuesday, I suppose… I’m so anxious for the online shopping that they’re going to offer – then it’s bagged and ready for you at pickup! GENIUS. 
As I was pulling away from Fulton’s, there were a few men out in “organic field #1” across from the market. You could tell they were contemplating their crop and doing some picking (I think it was the asparagus I also purchased on Friday, ready for our grill tonight). I thought, how nice that my slightly more expensive berries are allowing these guys to pay their bills and do what they do. Of course, I could’ve bought Meijer berries that were 4 for $5, but I ask, how are they able to sell so cheap? Well, they hail from South America, so I have a feeling that the nice men and women (and more likely, children) who did that picking weren’t paid the same wages of the men I saw in the field on Friday. Take into account the flashy packaging and the gas required to transport, plus company profits off the top, and we’re talking a pretty low working wage. 
Is it more expensive to buy local? At times. Shops can’t keep up with those who buy in bulk. But when you buy local, you’re not just walking out with a product; you’ve gained access to people who know more than you about what you need. And you’ve participated in growing a community that will be supporting and encouraging youth, students and even families in a variety of ways. 
In high school, one responsibility of the cheerleading squad was to solicit advertisements for the sports programs each year. Thankfully, local businesses supported a little ol’ school with their hard-earned profits. One particular shop – not even located in our district, but nearby – would buy a full page ad every year. But the big box store, on which we depended on for everything but groceries? Well, I’m not sure we ever got an ad. Lots of corporate red tape in order to get it to happen, so I’m not convinced management thought it was worth the effort. 
But local businesses come through for your organization’s 5k sponsorship, the t-ball team’s jerseys, and the festival we look forward to each year. They buy the 4-H hogs to fund future college funds. They donate to the spaghetti dinner fundraiser for families to raise money for adoption or for medical bills when a little girl gets a cancer diagnosis. 
Small business owners practice what they preach. They know the value of community, of investing in people. 
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