I don't think many know how important it is to shop local until you have worked for a small locally owned business.
In my job history, I started out working for Hobby Lobby as a teenager making a minimum wage of $5.15 an hour. After about a year I got promoted to a department manager with some responsibilities. You know what my raise was: 35 cents. BOO! At the time I was young and really didn't think much of it, I was just glad to have more responsibilities to cure boredom really and to keep me off the register. I hated working the register. If you've ever shopped at a Hobby Lobby and really noticed the "old school" registers, you'd know why.
After that I worked for a local eye doctor, some local design firms, but really didn't get the real feel of the importance of shopping local. I guess it maybe had something to do with being in the Houston area, where there definitely isn't as much of a feel of community as there is here in Austin.
Then I worked for one of the biggest corporations: Home Depot. At Home Depot you are a nobody, just a number in the system. They hardly notice that your there and it's hard as hell to get noticed by anyone above your immediate manager. Sure the benefits were pretty good; medical, vacation, sick time, etc. And you always know your pay check is coming, but you really don't know whats going on in that corporate office, whose control all trickles down on you. And if you don't agree with some new policy, well tough stuff, nobody cares what you think. When I did get my first evaluation, I got straight A's or 100's, I can't remember how they graded it, then they set you up, drum roll please: "And your raise is 25 cents! . Isnt that great?" And I was assured that was the high end of the raises offered Oh yeah great, that makes me really want to work harder!
Moving on, I thought I had the best job working for Palm Harbor Homes, making a pretty good salary, traveling all around the US, seeing things I would have never been able to see otherwise; like a cool mountain shaped like a buffalo head, cacti so big they make you look like ants in comparison, Amish people hard at work with a horse and plow... I digress. Then I got pregnant and there was no job left for me and I got laid off. It didn't matter how much of my heart and soul I put into the company, that I took work home with me, that I'd done winning presentations on new color schemes for the leaders of the company, that I'd rubbed elbow with those leaders over drinks at conventions. I could no longer travel, I had no place there. Boom, outta there!
So now I work for a local furniture boutique, as I've mentioned, Back Home Furniture. We have two stores but all the employees know each other and for the most part their spouses and kids. We are mostly all moms and consult and gossip about each others lives. Nobody gives you crap when you or your kid is sick, they're all there to help and cover your shift. We are more like a family than you will ever get at some big corporation. I know that there I am not just a number. Now I may catch a little slack for being the youngest, but I know the older (hehe) ladies will come around and accept me as an adult someday. Maybe by my 30th birthday :) But for now I appreciate their experience and motherly advice. But it's not just the employees it like the bar "Cheers, everybody knows your name". How cool is it when you have so many regular customers, that they recognize you or ask for you by name. Now the importance here is: because those customers chose to shop local repeatedly, they keep our small little business in business and keep our small little "family" intact and paying our bills. So think about that next time you spend your money at a local store. Your supporting your local community and keeping us alive. You can consider it your donation to your community, but it's still shopping and who doesn't like to shop!
Support local business, shop local, Keep Austin Triving!
Great local businesses:
Back Home Furniture, Lake Toys Boat Club, Backyard Salvage and Garden, Digital Street Inc., Wanderland , Uncommon Objects, Lucy in Disguise with Diamonds, Book People, Paper Place, Breed and Co., Hey Cupcake, Austin Java, Waterloo Icehouse, Peoples Pharmacy
Feel Free to add your favorites!