Support local. Sounds easy enough right? Sometimes it gets more complicated than just choosing with your dollar. Sometimes it comes down to resisting a change that is trying to be forced upon a community. Sometimes you have to resist “the man.” But how do we go about it? How do we stay unified and how do we voice our desire to have downtowns full of thriving, local businesses as opposed to chains before we have no choice?
I’ve been spending my winter in Oklahoma, regrouping, planning, setting goals an of course just touching base with my roots. I spend half my time in my hometown, El Reno, and the other half in my college town, Norman. Every time I’m in El Reno and my dad and I go grab lunch or something, we go over the same debate, where to eat? I like to support local, as does he, but I don’t always want greasy burgers and fries (no matter how delicious the many diners in my hometown are.) Those are the main options other than a couple local Mexican restaurants, a local BBQ place, and a couple fried chicken joins.
That’s something I love about my college town, there are plenty of local AND healthy options. I never have to choose between the two. During my time here, I took up my old job at a local bar on our campus corner right by the University of Oklahoma campus. Same owner for over 3 decades, and he still stands at the door on our busy nights keeping an eye on things and lending a hand when we get slammed.
Most of campus corner is made up of local businesses with the exception of a couple establishments that I and a lot of others choose not to frequent for that reason. Lately though, the police force has made a very strong presence on the streets and even inside our local establishments. One night we had 8 cops inside our bar…there was no fighting, no reason for them to be in there at all, except to fish for reasons to be there. Even if your of age (I’m 24), drinking casually (I love going out for a beer or two with friends), and have the Uber app installed on your phone and ready to take you home safely, a bunch of cops standing around watching you is a bit unsettling (not the ambience that I’m looking for, personally.) The same things have been happening to other establishments as well and the only thing that’s for sure is that business is suffering, people are going to other places to socialize, and everyone is incredibly confused as to why our resources are being wasted in this way to only create problems for local businesspeople.
Now, this isn’t a hate letter to cops. I’m sure they are doing their job. Someone told them to be there and so they are. But why? And why now, after every local business and employee has taken such huge hits on their profits/income is nothing changing? How are we as consumers supposed to voice our opinion in a way that is legitimately heard?
Is this big business squeezing out the competition somehow? How detrimental is it for us to resist whatever is happening here? And how long do we hang on draining out savings in the hopes that waiting it out will be worthwhile?
I’m leaving for Alaska very soon, so this problem is very temporary for me. I don’t have near the savings I was hoping for on this long venture moving to a fairly expensive state…but I’ll live. But for the business owners and the student employees who need to continue working their jobs with flexible hours to accommodate their student loans and school schedule…this issue could really become a serious problem.
Okay, so how is this related to travel, the main focus of my blog? Well, I always aim to support local economies when I travel. I’m going to leave my footprint all over the world, so I had better leave some contribution as well, whether financially, in the form of my time, or both. That is part of conscious travel and conscious living. Being mindful of your actions and who you are supporting starts at home and hopefully continues with you wherever you go, creating a sense of home and community wherever you are.
“Travel for freedom and to feed the wanderlust of your heart but also to immerse yourself in the true nature of our fellow humans.” – Kellie Mogg
To immerse yourself in the true nature of our fellow humans is not visiting a Starbucks or McDonalds in every country. It’s sitting down at a local establishment to feel the passion and hard work of a local family in everything from the ambiance, to the customer service, and of course the final product.
One of my favorite things about Oklahoma City area is the Keep It Local Card used to help connect consumers with local businesses through a directory of local businesses that give discounts or other benefits when you show your Keep It Local Card. The card costs $15 and your savings are evident with only a few uses. Way to be awesome, Oklahoma!
How do you voice your support for local establishments?