I have this friend who owns a small business and a farm (here’s a link to their Facebook page) and they often take their wares and tootle on down to the farmers’ market in Kalamazoo on Saturday mornings. I finally got a chance to go to the market myself, instead of just hearing about it from their Facebook posts.
I told my family they were in for a treat and we piled into the van early on a Saturday morning. My children, deeply suspicious of anything involving one of my crazy ideas and/or vegetables, set their hopes very low. They were anticipating a very large outdoor version of the produce department at Meijer, so they were pleasantly surprised when we drove through a somewhat dicey portion of town and then popped out at what appeared to be a carnival.
Sadly, no rides. But we did find hippies in the aisles and a Maserati in the parking lot. There were tents and delicious foods, so the kids decided maybe I wasn’t trying to torture them. Audrey quickly realized free samples abounded, and then Caleb spied the gluten-free booths, and suddenly we were all having fun. Eric is now a committed foodie, so all those booths of deliciousness put him in an excellent mood for the better part of two days. We bought goat cheese, and fancy breads, more cheese, street tacos, actual fruits and vegetables, and THEN we spied the gluten-free angel food cake.
Wait. Maybe we found the cake first and the tacos second. It doesn’t matter. We ate it all.
The four of us plowed down half of an angel food cake in less than ten minutes. I do not feel guilty, not even a little bit.
You see, we were doing it in the name of supporting local businesses.
All this reading I’ve been doing about simple living always mentions our obligation to local businesses, and I have to be honest– I’m pretty terrible about this because I’m very, very cheap. I get extremely agitated when I feel someone is trying to charge me more money for things than is strictly necessary. Why should I pay $4 for a box of cereal at a local store when I can pay $3 at Meijer or $2 at Aldi?
However, I have to admit that I often stand next to the employees at our local stores while we wait to pick up our children from school. Maybe if I really cared about my community I’d spend the extra buck or two and make sure his or her employer stays in business for a few more years. It doesn’t appear that the employees of Hardings or the embroidery/print shop are driving Rolls Royces or putting in gold-plated swimming pools, so maybe they’re doing something else with that money. Oh, something like feeding their children and paying the rent, perhaps.
I’m starting small, so I don’t seize up and give my wallet some sort of panic attack. Today I went to a Kalamazoo-based shoe store to buy a pair of shoes, and I’m buying almost all our family’s meat from V&V Market on Sprinkle Road. I love the family atmosphere and the service at V&V, and the quality can’t be beat. I do pay a little more, but I’ve started making a few more vegetarian meals to make the meat I do buy last longer. They have a little sign up next to the cash register. It says something along the lines of “Thank you for shopping here. It really does make a difference.”
You’re welcome, local business people. And if you do put in the gold-plated swimming pool, please don’t tell me.