When We Choose to Shop Local

Sweet Benjamin recently turned 4 years old. He was supposed to be the baby (until the twins surprised us!), so I still think of him as my little guy. I told him that he wasn’t allowed to turn 4 because he had to turn 1 again. Le sigh.

Ben is the prince of hand-me-downs. He gets Mack’s old clothes and shoes, and the nice neighbor boys give him their old toys and trikes. He never complains about this situation – rather, he takes absolute DELIGHT in getting a once-loved treasure from a cool older boy. And, the frugal eco-freak in me loves the notion of reusing rather than buying new all the time.

But, for his birthday this year, Chris and I wanted to treat Ben to something new. Something all his own. We decided that a new bicycle would be fitting for our busy fella. Spring and summer are coming, which means lots of fun outdoors in our courtyard and neighborhood.

For a hot minute I thought about ordering his bike on Amazon or picking one up at Target. But, there are a couple bike stores around our neighborhood, and we often avail ourselves of the free air pump to fill our stroller tires, so shopping local for this purchase seemed like the right thing to do. Luckily, we found just the right bike at Village Cycle Center.

I love Target and Amazon just as much as any mom, but I also love supporting my community, even if that means occasionally paying a little more. I love knowing names and faces of the people who make my city so great. I love being a part of it all!

When we choose to shop local, we choose to recognize the importance of expertise. At our friendly neighborhood bike shop, the salesman took the time to measure Ben to make sure we were buying the perfect size bike. And, the bike was assembled in-store by a trained technician who truly cared about doing the job right. He even invited Ben to the workshop to watch the assembly, and he helped Ben climb on for a spin around the store!

When we choose to shop local, we choose to recognize the importance of community. Other shoppers cheered Ben on as he test drove his new bike. Every employee in the store knew his name by the time we left. And every time we pass the shop Ben remembers that it is where we bought his bike. He knows it is a special place.

When we choose to shop local, we choose to recognize the importance of memories: For the rest of my life, I will remember this very special shopping trip. Ben’s excitement! The kind smiles and genuine welcome we got from every employee! The trip to the workshop to watch the assembly of the bike! Had we gone to Target, the memory would have melted into all the generic memories I have of shopping under fluorescent lights.

When we choose to shop local, we choose to recognize the importance of time. Sure, it might take less time to just click and order on Amazon, but websites don’t let us “test drive” anything, and making sure I am buying the right thing is worth my time and money.

When we choose to shop local, we choose to recognize the importance of doing the right thing. People who encounter and experience new merchandise at a brick & mortar store, but choose to then buy online to save a few bucks, are STEALING. Plain and simple. It isn’t fair to do that to a shopkeeper who spends time and money creating and supporting a retail environment that introduces you to new and fabulous items.

When we choose to shop local, we choose to recognize the importance of buying just what we need. Yes, a bike at Target would probably cost 35% less, but I can promise you that I’d leave with a bunch of other stuff I may or may not have needed (hello, Dollar Spot!). Shopping at a specific store ensures I only walk out with exactly what I need.

Some of my favorite local spots in Chicago:

Books - Volumes Bookcafe: this shop is owned by a high school friend and her sister. It is warm and inviting and located among many other local gems in Chicago’s Wicker Park neighborhood. http://www.volumesbooks.com/

Furniture - Walter E Smithe Furniture + Design: Expertise abounds at this local furniture retailer where trained interior designers help clients make the right home decorating decisions (and their fee is included with purchase). The designers will even come out and do a complimentary home consultation! www.smithe.com

Groceries - Green Grocer Chicago: This is a friendly little shop where I can pick up milk from grass-fed cows, local chocolates or free organic produce that might be a day past its prime. https://www.facebook.com/GreenGrocerChicago/

Bagels – Bro Bagels: Yes, there is a national bagel chain basically across the street from our house, but Bro Bagels are so good that I happily take a short Sunday morning drive to pick them up for my family! http://brobagel.com/

Running Shoes and Gear – Fleet Feet Chicago: I only buy my running shoes from Fleet Feet because the salespeople really take the time to make sure I am buying the exact right pair of shoes. They listen to my fitness goals, asses my stride and find several shoes that fit my price point. I can’t imagine taking their expertise to an online retailer. http://www.fleetfeetchicago.com

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Written by Maureen

More posts by: Maureen

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