As a small business owner, the recession hitting was like Homer Simpson slamming on the big red button. We began to intentionally research ways to continue moving our business forward. We earned a whopping 50% less in 2009 than in the year 2008. Thanks to loyal customers who, even though they were buying less, still chose to buy from us, the doors to our little family business remained open.
All over the country there are independent businesses that invest themselves in their own community by hiring staff, buying local supplies and donating to local charities. In the State of Michigan, small businesses make up most of the job growth.
I know. Mind blowing right?
That was Paul and I last year. During the recession we employed a maximum of 7 people. We did not see our ability to hire as a perk. We saw it as a huge responsibility.
As we became eternally grateful to our loyal customers, we became more enchanted by other independent businesses operating in our area. Not only the ones’ we found in our city but also the ones’ we found by chance on vacation. The food tasted better, the items purchased were higher quality and the customer service was always friendly. The knowledge that our money spent was helping to bolster our own economy was the cherry on top. Every individual, in every community, could contribute to ending their own recession.
Check out this great illustration from Lansing’s Capital Area Local First that explains where your money goes when purchasing from an independent business in comparison to a non-independent business.
In our effort to buy independent we have avoided chain restaurants and have been spoiled this year by some amazing eateries.
I love to eat. Good food is my top priority. There is NO other place to find authentic Mexican food in Lansing than Pablo’s Panaderia. Take it from a girl who lived closer to Juarez, Mexico than any other city for a decade. Pablo’s is the best.
Our favorite pizza joint is Geno’s Pizzeria for New York style pizza for the whole family. The owner makes it a point to purchase ingredients that are grown locally. The farmers in our state can appreciate that little tidbit. At the end of the week, when Paul and I just want a beer, we love to sit in Corey’s Restuarant. Their calzones are tasty and ridiculously big. Their beer is cold. A perfect combination. We also like to visit the Michigan Brewing Comany to sample their brews, eat peanuts and drop the shells on the floor.
I am a woman and love all things feminine. My all time favorite spot to shop is Grace in Old Town. My second would have to be October Moon. I’ve already written about Grace once and I stand by my initial statement. We have our clothing altered at Hemlines in Reo Town by Marylin who will hopefully forgive me for leaving my items there too long after reading this post. Everybody Reads is my favorite local bookstore that just happens to be located next door to one of the best foodie secrets in town, Gone Wired.
The peacock feather from Grace
My children love to visit Jumpin Jacks for an afternoon of bouncing in and off of huge bounce houses. They also love to visit Pruess’s Pets for an hour or two of viewing what God’s green earth has to offer us. Even as a knowledgeable adult, I find something new in that store every time I visit. The Peanut Barrel has gone done in family lore as the place to stop downtown for a snack. If I were you, I would also visit Cravings Popcorn
for some seriously delicious popcorn that is now my kid’s favorite afternoon snack.
Our mystery box from Cravings Popcorn
When the phrase “buy independent” is tossed around, I have seen many people throw up their hands and announce that it’s too expensive. I cannot deny that sometimes that is a statement of fact. I also cannot deny that within the non independent entities there are high end stores, low end stores and everything in between. Take some time to check out the local, independent businesses in your hometown. I encourage you to ask them questions. Get to know the owners better. You may surprise yourself with what you find.
If you have seen all of these places in Lansing then you are obviously doing your part in moving our economy along. If you have not seen them all, you have some catching up to do. If this list has left off a favorite spot of yours, add it in the comments. If you aren’t from around here, (said with a Texas drawl) then share a favorite spot from your neck of the woods (said with an equally obnoxious Texan drawl).
For everything local in Lansing, I recommend that you like
We Buy Local Michigan on Facebook. This is a page created and maintained by Jessie Stipak of Reno’s Sports Bar, which is also a locally owned and operated company.
For buy local inspiration everywhere, I recommend that you like The 3/50 Project on Facebook.
Have fun discovering the independent businesses in your town!