Friday, June 13

Shop Local, Eat Local, Have Big Fun!

Tomorrow at 10:30am will be the convergence of three of my favorite things.

#1 - shopping local. My family is very aware that I abhor the giant stores like Target and Walmart. I know you can find lots of different things under one roof. I can get a snow shovel, cat food, a new DVD, cord for my phone and a bean bag chair. I'm just not sure that is a good thing. It may be a huge variety, but I know how those stores treat their vendors because a company I worked for had a client that produced a popular hunting video series that was sold at Walmart. They dictated the price point and the terms - the vendor just had to make the budget fit. And when I say they dictated the terms - they routinely demanded up to 120 days to pay. And if the hunting dudes didn't get paid for 120 days, you can see how that rolls downhill.

So I prefer to buy local. I'd rather spend a couple of extra bucks to get my snow shovels and cat food from a business owned by a guy who actually lives in the area. Does that mean there aren't going to be mass-produced goods? No. Does it mean that I can count on the factories producing those goods to treat their workers fairly? No. But I think that the likelihood increases.

#2 - being part of a cash mob. I wrote about my first experience "in the mob" when the cash mob visited local grocer Anderson's Market. The concept is simple: a group of people show up at a pre-arranged time/place to shop with $20 (or more...!) to bolster the community spirit of shopping with a local store. It is fun and has given me a reason to stop in at places that I might not have shopped at otherwise. Our last cash mob was at Virginia Garden Center where I found wonderful and healthy plants. I also discovered knowledgeable and caring staff. I plan to return there for more stuff. On another occasion I ended up downtown at a little artistic place called Pastiche. Totally cool - completely off my radar! I am quite pleased at the variety of places our mob has visited. I can't wait for tomorrow's (Saturday, June 14) spot.

#3 - hanging out in a hardware store. Oh my goodness - I do love a good hardware store. Sure, I make trips to Lowe's from time to time. Actually worked for a Lowe's vendor for about a year and spent a LOT of time in the Lowe's stores in the great state of West Virginia. I was setting new displays in the faucet repair section. I learned one thing - customers in the Lowe's stores in WV are so desperate for assistance, it wouldn't matter if the vendor vests said "Inmate" across the back, they would ask me for help anyway. Regardless of the downsides of being in a big box store (and being in increasingly random places in WV...ever heard of Logan, WV? Had to drive through the back parking lot of the liquor store to get to the Super 8)...I loved all the little boxes of connectors and washers and nuts and stuff.

I have always loved hardware stores. The smell draws me in - a mixture of lumber, metal, fertilizer and rubber. I delight in discovering all the weird little things that a hardware store has to offer. Sure, you got your bolts and nuts and screws; hammers and screwdrivers and staple guns; seeds and plants and plant food - but then you turn a corner and find kitchen tools like meat thermometers and turkey basters - turn another corner and you find plungers and brooms. It would be the best possible place to have a scavenger hunt. Where else could you possible find a step ladder, garden hose, mop bucket and replacement seal for your granny's pressure cooker?

Tomorrow's cash mob will be at Lynchburg's True Value Hardware. I haven't been there in years! I'm looking forward to finding the perfect Father's Day gift. Something like an axe handle or hummingbird feeder or pocket knife...the possibilities are nearly endless! Come join me in the adventure!!

Then perhaps I'll EAT LOCAL and make a quick stop by Anderson's for some cheese and those marshmallows that are like having Lucky Charms without the pesky cereal part!

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