Friends for Local Business
has passed its first anniversary... (and its second... and continues...)
effort began in January of 2012, and over the first year several
friends of mine asked a few questions about the effort. As the
first anniversary closed in, I found myself thinking about some
of those questions a bit more, and I decided others might have
some of the same thoughts. So, not really frequently asked… here
are some questions and answers about Local Friends for Local Business…
do you get out of this?
mean, sure, if people do pay attention to it, there is a chance
some of them will check out more of the In My Backpack
web site. And perhaps some of my other efforts earn a bit of attention
thanks to an extra visit or two and someone looking around.
as far as a financial windfall (or even free ice cream every so
often)… there is nothing like that at all involved in this project.
doing it because I want to, and I think many others might find
it interesting as well.
for money? Then why did you decide to do this?
bit of a long story. And it breaks down into two different things
smashing together and setting off a light-bulb moment.
of all, when I travel, I really enjoy finding places that I simply
couldn’t experience at home. And I don’t necessarily mean touristy
spots. Disney World is great. Disney World is hardly a hidden
treasure… definitely not a small business… and I don’t know if
it really makes a community unique and special (regardless of
what you may think about Disney World, Orlando, Kissimmee and
everything else from that region).
great names that have been found during travels and fit what I’m
trying to describe -- and I picked these because they came immediately
to mind and not necessarily because they fit all of the Local
Friends ideas -- include: La Teresita Restaurant in Tampa, Diamond
Creek Restaurant in Peach Springs, and Winking Lizard Tavern in
are well known. Some are a bit hidden. Still, these are local
treasures and community-making businesses, often unique and not
same concept sort of applies when I am either at or near my home.
I have several places that I love going to that are unique, different,
and can only be found in one place… or only in two or three spots
in that area.
second element comes into focus with a trip for Terry and I. We
were visiting friends that had moved, and before the trip we were
sending all sorts of information back and forth about possible
things to do and see. Most of them were things our friends had
“found” since they moved. You get it… the treasures in their new
“smashing together” came during that trip when we realized we
would never see everything our friends were initially suggesting,
and it hit me that lots of smaller businesses end up going without
attention even by those that live close by. These places deserve
some applause and recognition, and hopefully some additional support.
light bulb this set off was to create a challenge… even if I was
the only participant… to identify some category every month and
then try to find a small, local business to visit that fit the
theme. I figured it would be fun, support some local businesses
(even if just a little bit), and possibly even teach me a few
things about where I lived.
a full month for each challenge?
has changed since the early days. It started as a challenge spread
out over five days.
main reason it started out as five days is that I didn’t want
to make it a single day. People work odd hours… literally around
the clock… and the classic standard of the Saturday-Sunday weekend
no longer offers a day off from work for many people. It needed
extra days to make it accessible to everyone and the personal
demands they might be facing.
eventually became apparent that designating things as a monthly
theme covered everyone the best. The
goal of the program is to support the little places near you.
And that can happen whenever it works best for you.
are the categories determined?
haven’t got a clue.
that’s not completely true. But the reality is that I don’t have
a set plan. If people decide to send me suggestions, that would
I get near the end of a month, realize I need to come up with
something to announce, and I’ll kick it around to some friends
for thoughts or just focus on something on my mind at the time.
the idea might fit into something timed really well… like ice
cream in the summer. For the most part though, it will simply
be an attempt to mix things up a bit.
you going to recommend places?
no. But in several ways… yes.
start with the yes.
the History section
for Local Friends for Local Business, I list the current month
and all previous efforts. As part of that, I am including the
names (with city and state details) of places I’m visiting. On
occasion I’m also adding in a few favorites of mine that fit that
month’s challenge, as well as places people tell me they have
visited or would recommend.
absolutely… if you look around, you will find places mentioned
in ways that could be considered a recommendation.
can’t check everything. Even when I do mention them, there have
been places people have told me about that I have never known
of before, still haven’t visited, and can’t truly offer many details
a place be horrendous? Yes. It could.
it be that the owner of the place sent me the details looking
for a cheap advertisement? Yup. Might happen.
the idea is based on celebrating community treasures and generating
neighborhood support. So if any of these notes get you out exploring…
finding places you have never tried before… and possibly leaving
a few dollars at a small business while telling your friends about
this great place you just learned about… awesome. I think the
positives are worth it.
about organized visits with lots of people? Do you think getting
a group to stop by a place would be fun?
It could be. But, I don’t see it as an option that would be a
Local Friends for Local Business kind of thing.
Terry and I get together with some friends and head out to dinner
with that month’s Local Friends challenge providing the basic
idea for where we go. Maybe you do the same. Awesome. I could
see that happening. (Heck… it has happened already.)
do not see thirty people meeting in a parking lot and surprising
a store owner.
a thought that might explain it better… I would really love to
see Local Friends not as a way to increase business for one day
at one store, but rather as an on-going adventure based on community
awareness and involvement.
haven’t really thought about Local Friends as something specific
to a certain community. (Stay with me...) When Local Friends began,
I lived in the region of Rhode Island – Connecticut – Massachusetts,
and as such would most often find myself looking around there
during the challenges. I also have family and friends in places
like Syracuse, Baltimore, Ocala, Seattle, Chicago, Las Vegas and
more… even overseas in England and Australia. If ten people visited
one store in Warwick, Rhode Island… or, if ten people visited
ten different stores in ten different cities… I would consider
those moments equally successful, even though in one case a single
specific store benefitted more than in the other.
even beyond that though… I would love to see you return to these
places... recommend them to friends... often.
not a one-day, one-location idea.
an on-going endeavor. Not just today… but next month as well.
It’s about finding that store around the corner that you never
visited before. It’s about recognizing the value these establishments
bring to our neighborhoods and how they create the unique landscape
that makes my home different from yours (and just as exciting).