Friday, December 18, 2015

Still planning to buy that imported seafood? Why you might want to think again

I just read the article below completely and I'm furious. Although I'd read a good portion via my phone last night, the popups were driving me crazy and I didn't finish it. And when I shared it on my Facebook page, all that happened was a couple of polite likes and that was it. So I just re-posted it with the comments below, because I think it's important and that it matters. Do you?

"It's funny, I can post a graphic of some words inside a Christmas tree and people will share it like crazy....but I post THIS and often no one even acknowledges it. I guess American Dragon - Michael McKeldon Woody (the page which shared the article, that you can find on Facebook here) is used to finding that out but damn is it frustrating for me to see. I'm willing to bet that right now across the country, seafood selections (frozen, etc) in many of the major chain stores are somewhat depleted with the holidays coming. So clearly the public IS buying it...does that mean you support this slave labor?

Don't get me wrong, I'm no better than you. I LOVE shrimp and sometimes I want to be selfish and just have what I want. But...the local seafood available in our area isn't cheap, and thus it's become a couple of times a year extravagance only...because I will not willingly support foods produced in this manner. And if you think about it, tossing back that crap you picked up at walmart wouldn't kill you either. Maybe when you do splurge it will be a local seafood market that's family owned and operated....and yep, perhaps you won't get to buy it as often. But you just might be keeping the local business IN business."

Googling brought up more articles, all from within the last 3 days. Hmm. Perhaps this story actually hit a nerve?

Care to learn more? Here are some links to Maryland Seafood (since that's near me).

American Dragon - Michael McKeldon Woody

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Where You Spend Matters | Think Before You Walk Into Another Chain Store

Small businesses are the heart and soul of our towns, neighborhoods and cities. They are more than "just" a building, or a shop, they are someone's life who loves where they live. Most owners don't do it for the money - they do it because they ARE the community and part of the community is in them. Don't wait. Invest in your independents now.

Every time you walk into a small business you are silently voting FOR THEM and against the generic all-under-one-roof store. I might pay $11 more for a vacuum cleaning at my local hardware shop....but I also didn't drive 40 minutes each way to Home Depot. Choose wisely. Live local.

It's not just about "shopping for gifts" at independent retailers. It's also about buying gift cards for the local coffee shop, passes to the family-owned amusement complex, tickets to the locally-owned movie theatre which STILL - after 50+ years - offers the same small town cinema experience! It's a gift certificate to the auto repair place on Main Street and treats for the dogs and cats from the pet supply coop. It's all about choosing where you spend!

Spend with the independents right in your community rather than the corporate chain stores.

Choosing to Use Locally-owned Businesses: "Why I'm Standing in a Tribles Appliance Parts Store"

I'm standing at the counter of a the local appliance parts/repair piece/fix it place. I'd ordered the part a few days ago and just picked it up, which for us IS well out of our comfort zone but some reckless voice inside our collective heads apparently spoke and we listened. Following a sort of breakdown in communication with an appliance repair guy, and knowing this shop was here, we have courageously (or was it drunkenly), opted to try and replace part of the dryer on our own. 

Yes, I know. This absolutely falls into "outside the box" behavior for us, but multiple service calls for the same continually failing mechanism have been both costly and annoying, leading us to in a moment of foolishness, believe that we could indeed fix it ourselves. Ha ha. We laughed too the next day when we thought it over, but it was too late; the dryer had already been on life support and was fading rapidly and we had to DO SOMETHING. 

I approached the task with my usual "I-will-search-online-for-no-less-than-101-discussions-advice-and-articles-about-said-problem" while the other half calmly watched YouTube videos on his phone while stuck behind the dryer. As I waded through the morass of posts, which by the way ALL agree that this model is a #!%*/@ piece of something, he was becoming friends with someone in the Midwest who apparently either made these videos for work or was just really bored. And who gave really great advice on repairing your own dryer. 

Monday, December 7, 2015

"Shop Local This Holiday Season" | Free Graphics to use and share

We believe in making a conscious choice about where to spend, and there's no better place than investing locally. Small businesses reinvest profits back into the community, create jobs and establish thriving areas to live and play. Support your independently-owned retailers this holiday season.

Our graphics below are created in support of local shops and to encourage spending at independent businesses. They are free for you to download and share. Click on each to open the larger version, right click and save to your computer or device.

 I care about small business owners rather than wealthy CEO's.
 Why leave town to shop?
Money spent locally is money invested locally.
Step away from the corporate greed found in the big box stores and support independent businesses instead.
What I think often keeps many people from spending locally is time. Small stores and local businesses may not be open 24/7 (nor should they be), but in today's world it seems that's what we've come to expect. Plan ahead this year.
Empty towns are depressing. Keep them thriving and full of holiday cheer.
 Spending locally is investing locally.
Choose wisely.

Live Local USA ~ "The voice of independent businesses"

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Small Business Casualties: Is One-Stop Shopping Killing Us?

I first wrote a rough draft of this back in 2009 as i started to see the attraction the larger stores held for consumers. Worried that the independents may be fading in popularity by seeing a shift towards the “get it all under one roof” mentality, it appeared there were changes ahead for our small businesses. And I'd venture to say that it's become more than just how people spend; I think it's become a mind set. Prior to the early 1990's I had never set foot in a Walmart. I know, I know. Sheltered east coaster I guess, but when we traveled we went to places that were all about the small towns and where variety made up the local landscape. Somehow, if the giants were present I managed to miss them until they arrived in Virginia, probably around 92' or '93.

Monday, November 30, 2015

Make it a Local Holiday Season (#ShopLocal)

I'm dreaming of a local Christmas....Why leave town to shop?
Money spent locally is money invested locally.

What I think keeps many people from spending locally is time. Small stores and local businesses may not be open 24/7 (nor should they be), but in today's world it seems that is the norm and what we've come to expect perhaps. Plan ahead so you have plenty of time before the holidays.

Why not choose to step away from the corporate greed found in the big box stores? Support independent businesses instead.

Empty towns are depressing. Keep them thriving and full of holiday cheer.

Spending locally is investing locally.

Live Local USA ~ "The voice of independent businesses"

Monday, November 23, 2015

The Movement Towards Shopping Locally (and disgust at corporate greed)

I'm getting giddy about #SmallBusinessSaturday. Some years in the past I have kind of thought it was a lot of hype and not enough action behind the words, but THIS YEAR.....I think this might be it. By the way, if you aren't on board yet time is ticking; here's a short list of ideas and resources to get you in the mood for November 28th. Small Business Saturday 2015

Why? Consumers, despite being such incredibly fickle creatures, are somewhat outraged at the whole "Open on Thanksgiving" concept. There are multiple sites and facebook pages (for more on this check out my blog post I'm against Black Thursday and Black Friday) dedicated to listing the offenders who are making their employees come into work on Turkey Day. And much of the feedback indicates disgust towards the big box retailers and their greed. How much is their outrage worth? We're about to find out in just a few days.

Now that doesn't mean consumers won't just go out shopping at all the places they railed against on Black Friday - but it is interesting watching the annoyance building about the whole Thursday thing. Could it help people to stop and think about where they spend, consider who they really wish to support, and perhaps focus more on where their money goes? I can't help but hope that is the case. Small businesses matter and I'm a hard-core localist who is focused on their history, contributions made to the local economy, and partnerships with their communities. I'm already there with my support, but believe people need to wake up and think for themselves. Could this be the added push from consumers who are actually stopping to think about how they spend? I'm crossing my fingers and watching what happens next. 

Live Local USA: "The voice of independent businesses"
Small Business on Pinterest
"Live Local" on Pinterest

Monday, November 9, 2015

I'm against #BlackThursday. AND #BlackFriday.

This fall it's been interesting to see how many people are jumping on the "no shopping for Thanksgiving" bandwagon. I can't quite figure out why, when so many are clamoring for the opportunity to buy more things that they likely can't really afford, on the very day we are supposed to be grateful for what we already have.

Why is THIS movement taking off? There are a number of active sites now dedicated to posting "naughty and nice lists" as a way to warn shoppers who is planning to ruin Thanksgiving by opening their stores. Gosh, if we had this kind of outrage about other issues such as the loss of independent retailers and family-owned icons closing after decades of business.....

Is it an "us against" them mentality?
Is it really about the day being considered family time?
Are people fired up about some other reason I'm missing??

Here are a few of the most popular facebook pages devoted to this cause:

It's baffling to me how people will all rush to the big box stores on FRIDAY, ignoring the hometown icons which have been a part of the community for decades, and yet be so upset over the "Black Thursday" madness. After all, they plan to still spend at the chains, so why does it matter who is open when? It's apparent that some support commercialism no matter when because the stores which have been open in the past clearly aren't empty on Thanksgiving anymore.

Live Local USA | "The voice of independent businesses"


Article 11.27.15: "Why Retailers Will Inevitably Lose The War On Thanksgiving"

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Small Business vs. Town Politics: Water's Edge Cafe in Crisfield, Maryland

It's happening again more small business is up against their town over an issue that should be and is fixable. I'm sick over this. Waters Edge Cafe is in the same town that our cover photo on facebook is from - there are many more pictures just like it of vacant buildings, "for rent" signs and empty streets.

Back in September the owners had been very kind to me with a community project we were doing. As one of the only people who welcomed us to set up for the afternoon to connect with people, it really struck me that in town of forgotten buildings and departed businesses, that so many folks were coming to their restaurant that day. In the middle of the week, during the day. Because they are worth it.

When will community leaders "get it"? These laws and zoning restrictions and parking issues ARE fixable. Rulings can be changed and properties can be rezoned - but many small towns are already losing the things that matter - and yet when they have something wonderful come in, they don't seek to retain it. I'm floored. Here is the facebook post from the local newspaper, Crisfield-Somerset Times

Some of the comments on this topic show clearly how people feel.

"Why would the city REALLY want to deny the waiver?? Common sense. Please use common sense. Please waive this OR convert your picnic area to a parking lot. Closing this restaurant would be ONE more dagger in the back for this town! IS that what you really want??"

"I am completely dumbfounded by this. Why would "town leaders" want to give a thriving business such trouble? Common sense should prevail.... I support the restaurant...."

"This is ridiculous. Given the current economic status of the city it would be more prudent to grant a waiver. Preserving the existence of a thriving business that is loved and desired by the community should be enough to support a waiver. In addition perhaps it's time to review existing ordinances for their relevance in today's environment."

UPDATE 10/28/15: "Crisfield's parking problems to be addressed" - post from the Crisfield-Somerset County Times

UPDATE 12/3/15: Cash registers stolen from Crisfield cafe

Water's Edge Cafe is located in downtown Crisfield, Maryland.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Small Business Saturday 2015

It's almost that time of year again, when the big box stores pull out their deep discounts and slash prices to entice customers into their caverns - and away from the small retailers. Black Friday is now upstaged by Black Thursday, both of which I will be boycotting again this year just out of principle, so that I can spend more at the independents.

But there is so much to know about #SBS; how to plan for it, ride the train and tie in a promotion for your business. Partnering up with other indie retailers in the area is a brilliant idea so that you can all work to promote one another, your town, main street or local area as a destination and then share in the rewards. A multi-layered marketing campaign which works to attract visitors across a wider platform, say for example geared towards the whole family, is a win win for any community. Pair up the specials and rewards so that while mom is buying for her sisters, the kids are enjoying pizza at the arcade and dad is kicking back with a personalized shopping assistant in another store. 

Small Business Saturday is happening on November 28th, 2015 and there are more perks and ways to get the word out than ever before! Here are links to a number of useful sites: 

Learn about #SBS at and on facebook at

Marketing materials such as posters, banners,  specialty listings on Amex's site and more:
Promotional ideas for small businesses: despite this article being from a few years ago, there are several ideas for building interest such as starting the process of connecting with your customers early, as well as ways to make the day stand out and have a "special event feel" to it.

Another site from Amex reminds you to plan early, build buzz and "make your shop irresistable":

The PicsArt photo editor (available for download in the Play Store) again is offering the clip art package for Small Business Saturday free. Unfortunately it wasn't updated from 2014 so two of the graphics have the wrong date (the correct one is the 28th).  

However, the the other designs are kind of neat to drop onto pictures of your own storefront or town to tie in your retail establishment with the white and blue theme.

In addition to these resources, the American Independent Business Alliance (not affiliated with American Express), has wonderful guidelines and resources for small business owners. Check out their "Holiday Campaign and Event Ideas" at the following links which feature a number of towns and communities across the country working to promote their main streets and downtowns in unique ways. From signage to stamping currency with a pro-local message to window displays, there are plenty of ideas to get your team excited and energized.

"Buy Local banners and tools illustrating the power of spending locally: 


Whatever you do, make sure to spread the word that YOU are 
proud to represent an independently-owned business and are eager to welcome - and reward - customers who visit your establishment.

Follow us and join the movement towards supporting locally-owned retailers! 
Live Local USA | "The voice of independent businesses"