Residents support area businesses by being ‘locavores’Written by Emily Gibb | | email@example.com
“Buying local” isn’t just a food trend — it helps a community retain its identity and strength.
“There’s so much pressure towards sameness, but supporting local businesses is one way to protect ways that we’re different and I think support for that is growing,” said Paula Ross, vice president for Toledo Choose Local and a research associate at the University of Toledo’s Urban Affairs Center.
“I think people are beginning to care more about the things that make us unique and support the places that make us different from other communities,” she said.
Organizations, such as Toledo Choose Local, are providing directories of companies that call Toledo home, as well as offering networking and educational events.
The Toledo Choose Local directory has members who offer almost any service. They run retail stores, operate restaurants, run automotive repair shops, manage restaurants and coffee houses and operate funeral homes.
“Even though I’m vice president, I’m impressed by the range of businesses represented in our directory,” Ross said.
She said that while big box stores might offer the lowest price, they can drive out local businesses and then raise the prices.
“Maybe we’re not paying the environmental cost on the price tag, but we’re going to pay those costs later or our children or grandchildren will pay them,” Ross said.
Even though it can be a lot of pressure when looking at the cost short term, it’s less costly when business owners and consumers take a step back and look at the long-term consequences, she said.
Part of the positive impact a local business can have is on the “triple bottom line.” The first line is to make a profit and the next two are being aware of their environmental and social influences.
Smaller, local businesses can make decisions without having to worry about answering to higher powers, such as shareholders.
“It is perhaps easier for an independent business to take into account those other bottom lines,” Ross said.
Another positive impact from local businesses is the circulation of dollars in the Toledo community.
“Small businesses, particularly businesses where decisions happen locally, are so much more likely to purchase from other local businesses,” Ross said.
They’re buying advertising from local resources or using local legal services, Ross said. They also tend to be more supportive of community institutions, arts groups, service groups and supporting organizations that provide food for the hungry.
One of those business owners who focus on the local impact is Pam Weirauch. She is the owner of Pam’s Corner, a lunchtime restaurant Downtown, She is also president of Toledo Choose Local.
She said a study that showed buying from local businesses kept more than 40 percent of the money in a community.
Her customers have grown to expect her local touches, such as the fresh flowers on the tables from Glendale Flowers adn Gifts, the fresh herbs growing on the patio during the warmer months or her bread that comes from Country Grains off Sylvania Avenue, she said. But her taste for the unique didn’t start with her restaurant.
Growing up in Napoleon, she was used to being in the country and had an expectation for fresh food. Even when she was in her late teens and early 20s, she liked to go to the new, cool, little places to eat, even if she didn’t quite fully understand the connection at the time, she said.
“I was a locavore before I knew there was that term,” Weirauch said.
She appreciates the face-to-face business with vendors who care that their products are being used correctly.
“Having a personal relationship with vendors is really important to me,” she said.
Although Weirauch understands that not everything in her store can come from a local source, she tries her best to keep it local. She’s even getting quotes from the “locally owned guys” to redo her floors.
Through her restaurant and work with Toledo Choose Local, she’s helping teach others ways to support the local guys.
“There are all sorts of ways to support our community,” she said.