Why I’m so Vocal About “Local”

Written by guest author, Heatherleigh Navarre
Owner of Boston Tea Room

Years ago, when I was a child out running errands with my father, I noticed that everyone we met knew him by name. The woman who got him his coffee at the donut shop on the corner, the man at the dry cleaner where we picked up Dad’s shirts, and even the gas station attendant who filled our tank (it was THAT long ago), all called him “Pete” and chatted amiably with him for a bit. When I asked him that day how all those people knew him so well, I got my first lesson in the importance of shopping local.

Dad explained that these were all small locally owned businesses that made it a point to get to know their customers, which meant that he always got better service there than at other places where he wasn’t known. As dad put it, “This winter if there’s a cold morning when my car won’t start, I can call Ed at the station here, and he’ll come help me out, because he knows I always fill up my tank at his place. It pays to know folks, kiddo.” It was a lesson I never forgot.

The Boston Tea Room
Boston Tea Room, located on 9 Mile in Downtown Ferndale

It’s more than thirty years since then, and that lesson has proven true over and over again. Now that I’m a small business owner myself, I remember that day, and I try to follow that example of getting to know everyone who visits my shop. It’s fun, because in case you haven’t noticed, people are fascinating creatures. It helps that I am an extrovert by nature, and I really do believe that everyone has a story to share. But getting to know my own patrons isn’t where it stops for me. I also strive to get to know my neighbor businesses, and lend them my support whenever possible, in order to help nurture and grow a thriving environment for my own shop.

When my not-so-local clients come in to visit, I need to be able to suggest a great lunch spot nearby, along with which restaurant has the most vegetarian options, which shop has great gifts for men, or who hosts the best happy hour in town, or nearby places that may have what they need when my place does not – and that means getting to know as many other local businesses as I can. And that’s not just good for my business; it’s good for my community, too.

Many of my customers are also my neighbors, living in the same town, and by trying to ensure that the local business community thrives, I am doing my part to co-create a vibrant place for all of us to live, work, and play. So there’s a component of good business practice, and there’s an altruistic component, as well. I want to live in a place where there is a diverse, creative, and unique vibe, where small businesses are able to succeed, and where individuality is valued and encouraged.

MBrew
MBrew, located on Vester Street in Ferndale

Of course, there’s a selfish motivation, too. The night before Thanksgiving, my staff and I were hard at work, and getting a bit ravenous. We called one of our favorite local eateries to get some food delivered, and were told that they had already closed for the holiday (darn it), but that since we were regular customers, he would make an exception and bring us whatever we needed (hooray!). I doubt any of the corporate chains would’ve been so accommodating (thank you Felix and the whole crew at M-Brew!)

Small business owners are my heroes and heroines. They are scrappy, industrious risk-takers. The owner of that donut shop I mentioned earlier gave me my very first job, and taught me the value of a good work ethic and that there is dignity in every task. “To feed people is to bless them,” he told me once.

Jacki Smith and Patty Shaw, Owners of Coventry Creations
Jacki Smith and Patty Shaw, Owners of Coventry Creations in Downtown Ferndale

The owner of a record store where I worked in the nineties taught me that to complain about ‘the public’ is nonsensical. People are individuals, and lumping them together robs them of their humanity, so don’t do it.” Six years ago, it was Jacki Smith and Patty Shaw, local owners of Coventry Creations, who actually invited me to open a shop here in Ferndale, right next to their business, for which I am eternally grateful.

More recently, another local business owner, Cheryl Tucker, of Rouge Makeup and Nails, sat down with me over coffee and spreadsheets and helped chart a course for making some big changes for my little shop in the New Year. We had a great time brainstorming and accomplished so much – far more than I could have done on my own.

Rouge Makeup and Nails, located on Woodward in Ferndale
Rouge Makeup and Nails, located on Woodward in Ferndale

Local businesses are always on the front lines: they are hit hardest in recessionary times, and they are the drivers of any economic recovery, not to mention being the sole economic support of so many of our friends, families, and neighbors, so when I spend my money with them, I know it’s going into the pockets of the people in my community. I learn far more from them than from any class I’ve ever taken, or business book I’ve ever read.

So, support your local small business owner. Get to know them, and your life will be better for it, and if you dare, BE one. The world needs more courageous fools living their dreams.

Boston Tea Room Collage

Heatherleigh Navarre is the owner of Boston Tea Room, a family business in downtown Ferndale. Boston Tea Room is an award-winning independent book store, gourmet tea shop, and psychic reading salon. She loves reading, road trips, and long conversations with other small business owners over piping-hot cups of tea. More information at bostontearoom.com

The Community Spirit of Ferndale

Photo credit: SoPlat Media
Photo credit: SoPlat Media

Written by guest author Jay McMillan, President of Royal Services

I believe that Ferndale, perhaps more than other communities that I have lived, played, and been a part of, is one of the most giving communities. This is just one of the unique ways Ferndale adds to our lives.

As the Chair for the Ferndale Area Chamber of Commerce, and a business owner and president of Royal Services, I know this to be true:  Giving to the community creates a sense of belonging, a sense of pride, and a sense of caring.

Giving to the community, whether it be through contributions, offering a helping hand to our neighbors, or through taking part in community activities, gives back to me that feeling of “WOW, I am proud to be a part of Ferndale!”  Sharing the joy of successes of ourselves and others makes me stick my chest out a little further, adding to the pride of being part of Ferndale.

If I ask myself, where do I belong and where does Royal Services belong, there is only one logical choice – we belong in Ferndale.  Through Royal Services logomy activities with organizations, volunteer efforts, or just by  sitting and speaking with new business owners, I realize that I do these things because I really want to! Never an expectation of getting anything in return, but from the pure joy of giving.  The payback, if you will, is that the community has reached back and offered a strong sense of belonging.  I am PROUD to say I am from Ferndale Michigan – look at what we have become and where we are going!

The last component is that Ferndale is a caring community. Plain and simple, we care about each other and for many of us, we are there to offer that helping hand when we are needed most. Those business neighbors who are most successful give to the community without a second thought. Not because it’s good business, but because they care.

Jack Aronson receives "Special Service Award" at the 2014 Ferndale Area Chamber Gala.
Jack Aronson receives “Special Service Award” at the 2014 Ferndale Area Chamber Gala.

With the floods of 2014, those that cared most stepped up and took the lead in offering support to those that were devastated. I look at Jack Aronson, owner of Garden Fresh Salsa, and his efforts through flood relief and the Ferndale location for The Boys and Girls Club. I watch Jim Pool, Pastor of Renaissance Vineyard Church, and know that he genuinely cares  about our city, offering a helping hand to those in need of help.  I look at Kyle Van Buren, owner of Biggby Coffee – Ferndale. He is one of the newer members of our community, and has already embraced Ferndale and the Ferndale Public Schools, taking part wherever he can.  I can look at any number of individuals in our community who have similar stories.

It’s what we’re all about – helping one another succeed. Thank you Ferndale for letting myself and Royal Services make this our community home.

#SupportLocal

So…Why Small Business Saturday?

Cristina DDAWritten by guest author Cristina Sheppard-Decius, CMSM
Ferndale DDA Executive Director

I do not “do” Black Friday. Never have. So when American Express came out with Small Business Saturday a few years back, I thought, “Well finally, someone gets it.” I always thought I was alone in feeling this way, which come to find out, I am not. This is not to disparage those who have made Black Friday a family tradition nor to change that habit either. There is obviously room for both, I just secretly hope to play an active role in swinging more folks around to my kind of thinking.

Jerry's at Rust Belt
Jerry’s Shirts original space in Ferndale,  at The Rust Belt Market

I know some of you may think that Small Business Saturday is just an American Express marketing gimmick or made-up holiday. To me, Small Business Saturday is so much more than that, and there are many other small busines advocates who agree. While American Express my have coined the term and are spending thousands on marketing it to earn a greater return, what they have really done is help strengthen the voice of small businesses everywhere and bring greater awareness as to the why you should shop on Small Business Saturday.

DDA Modern Natural Baby
Modern Natural Baby

So why Small Business Saturday?

Location, Location, Location. Small businesses keep it local. Did you know that small businesses reinvest 70% of every dollar earned back into their local community? It is two times more than any national chain or online business. Downtown Ferndale is also pretty easy to get to, we love biking (even in the winter), and we are completely walkable to over 350 businesses.

It’s About the People. Small local businesses are about the people who run them; your neighbors, your friends, your children’s friends or their parents, your family—the person willing to put everything on the line to go against the corporate grain and take a chance on themselves. It’s a big risk running a small business, but usually comes with a great reward—and it’s not money, it’s gratification. Gratification that you are doing what you love. (Although being able to cover your expenses, support your employees and family is really important, too!).

DDA Christmas
“Downtown Ferndale is overflowing in originality, and that is what makes our city the place people want to be.”

Many of our Downtown Ferndale business owners are Ferndale residents, and the same holds true for a significant majority of their employees. They not only invest in their downtown, but also in the people who live here.

Genuine Service. No where else will get you a more genuine experience, the best customer service and full appreciation from shop owners than when you shop at a small business. Small businesses work harder to make sure you’re happy.

Originality. Small businesses are born from the idea of one or sometimes a small group of individuals, whose individuality shines through in what they do, how they do it and what they provide. Downtown Ferndale is overflowing with originality, and that is what makes our city the place people want to be. Downtown Ferndale has a whole host of creative gift buying options – you are sure to be the hit of the party or make your loved ones’ holiday special. There is also comfort in knowing that the dollars you spend on Small Business Saturday will directly impact your community.

More Fun Than Not. I’m just going to say it. Shopping in a downtown is just a heck of Leave Your Printa lot more fun than being stuck in a line or being packed in like sardines in a mall or big box. I love being able to have a real conversation with the real owner of the store, and take my time making my shopping decisions. Small business owners know how to help you, even when you don’t know what you’re looking for. We also have over 60 restaurants and entertainment venues to add to that shopping experience, which to me is a winner! Nothing beats a day of shopping than to be able to sit down, kick back and enjoy a meal someone makes for me (and a beverage I might add). Stress be gone!

Found Sound DDA
Found Sound

So what are you doing this Saturday, November 29th? After reading this I hope you are taking it to the streets of Downtown Ferndale for Small Business Saturday. Start your day with brunch, then make sure to pick up the Downtown Ferndale Passport to specials and savings at more than 30 businesses. Every time you make a purchase, get your passport stamped. With each stamp, you will be entered into a raffle of amazing prizes from our merchants. With each stamp you know you are supporting your community! For a list of businesses and all the details, go to www.downtownferndale.com.

#ShopSmall #ShopLocal #DowntownFerndale

Local Lessons on Community Support

banners-soulful_living_799479992
“There are many definitions of community. The one I like best is simple: People with common interests in a particular area.”

Written by guest author, Teri Williams

When I was a young girl my dad used to wake me up early most Saturday mornings to head downtown to Eastern Market in Detroit where we would shop for the weeks fresh fruits and vegetables.  The vendors would greet us with bright smiles and warm welcomes. Some who knew us would even have a few items already packed.  Every few minutes one of my dad’s coworkers would stop us to say hello and chat.

On the way home we would have breakfast at one of the local restaurants.  At one particular diner the chef would start cooking our breakfast when he saw us walk in the door.  The server (called a waitress back then) would have coffee, juice and chocolate milk in her hand before we even sat down.  Most times friends, family, or local officials would sit with us for a few minutes, catching up on the events of the week.  It was a weekend ritual that I loved not just because I hung out with my dad, more because we shared community spirit and the love of humanity with so many others.  Sounds like a scene from Cheers – without the beers!

There are many definitions of community.  The one I like best is simple:  People with common interests in a particular area.

GirlavantingGirls night out Elegance By Design Ferndale
“…the foundation of my success starts within my own home town by showing my support to fellow local business owners.”

the foundation of my success starts within my own home town by showing my support to fellow local business owners. 

Much has changed since I was a young girl; however the fundamentals of community living have not.  Whether you reside in a city or have a business in a city means you have a common interest with all who are part of that city; you have stake in the community.  The ultimate goal is for the community to thrive, to grow, to shine. For those of us who both reside in and do business within our community, our stake becomes even higher.  We want both our business and our home to reflect success.

As someone whose business is both local and global, I realize that the foundation of my success starts within my own home town by showing my support to fellow local business owners.  Every time I need something I look around my hometown first.

Why support local?

Local business owners recycle many of their dollars back into the community through taxes, hiring local residents, and spending their own dollars on the home front. 

Local business support means you reduce ecological waste with less gas, as well as less air and water pollution.

Local business shopping strengthens the foundation of social relationships by linking neighbors and supporting local causes. 

difference between soulcial and socialNext time you are looking for something, whether it’s a gift for a friend, a plumber, or something just for you, take a minute to look at one of the businesses within your city.  It’s better for you, it’s better for them, it’s better for the community and it’s better for the environment.

Teri Griffin Williams has spent most of her life supporting the Ferndale community in some capacity. With over 20 years’ experience in both the corporate world and mindful, heart centered energy work, Teri Williams shares her personal knowledge gained as a successful entrepreneur.  She is a multimedia and business consultant, as well as a Shamanic Practitioner, Reiki Master and Certified Intuitive Practitioner who relates the ins and outs of what works for her in the hopes that you, too, will live a more Soul-cially Conscious life.  She is the host of Soulful Living at Empoweradio.com and a regular contributing author for SimpleStepsRealChangeMag.com. For more about her, including free resources and how to work with her, visit TeriGriffinWilliams.com

Seeking the Success of our City

Jim Pool Bio Photo
“Wherever I am, I try to support the community, love people, encouraging all that is good that is happening in the city.”

Written by guest author, Jim Pool

When we opened our doors as the Renaissance Vineyard Church nearly three years ago, one of our values was to be a great friend to the city. We wanted to serve and support our local community, to not only love the people but to actually like the place that where we were at! For us, the church is not the building. The church is the people. So every Sunday, at the conclusion of our service, I encourage people to “go out and be the church.” To go love people and seek the success of our city.

We support our local community in a number of ways. We actively participate in Chamber activities, building relationships, helping network, and hosting connection opportunities in our building for small businesses that may not have a space of their own. We empower the small business owners in our church community. We championRenaissanve Vineyard Inside local events like the DIY, including them alongside our church events on our calendar. We advocate for our great school district. And we care for hungry area families and our homeless neighbors. Our food pantry (including our new garden providing desperately needed healthy vegetables) feeds 80-100 families a month, and our Warming Center sleeps about 75 homeless women and men for 12 days at the start of each new year.

The following story embodies the essence of the posture we’re trying to take. As Ferndale continues to grow, one of the really cool things that’s developed are the many charitable 5K runs. As the City has continued to work on the intricacies of the standardized route for these runs, many of them have gone right by our church building (at 9 & Pinecrest). Which is awesome. On one such occasion, the bulk of the runners raRenaissance Vineyard Front Shotn by from 10-11am on a bright blue Sunday morning. When the start of our 10:30am service came, less than half our group was present. Rather than complain, we happily went outside and started cheering the runners on with gusto, encouraging them to finish strong, waiting for the rest of our community to be released from traffic. I loved it! I was so proud of our church.

I’ve lived in Ferndale for 13 years now and I walk around town every chance I get. I love being in the schools and parks and businesses and bars. Wherever I am, I try to support the community, love people, encouraging all that is good that is happening in the city.

I was in the Army for a short time before becoming a pastor. During that time, the rule of thumb was that for every infantryman on the front lines, there were seven heroic women and men making what that soldier did possible. You might say the Renaissance Vineyard Church is a little like that. Our church is filled with heroic women and men and kids caring for people on the frontlines in need, serving and supporting the great business, educational and civic leaders we have in our community.

The Renaissance Vineyard Church is so thankful to be part of our community and we are happy to #SupportLocal.

The Business of Supporting Local

 Written by guest author, Sandy Levine

When I started in the restaurant industry at the ripe old age of 11, I was already a really competitive kid.  I loved sports and hated losing.  It seemed natural that in the coming years, as I moved my way up through the ranks in kitchens and dining rooms, that other nearby restaurants with similar concepts were viewed by my bosses as the enemy (or at least the opposition).  Whether it was a deli, a pizza place, a burger joint, or a steakhouse, I was always very loyal to where I worked and ready to tell a guest why we were better than somebody else.

In the early 2000s, I moved to Philadelphia, and my eyes were opened to a completely different culture.  It seemed not only that restaurant owners (and managers, servers, bartenders, etc) communicated with one another, they often acted as champions of one another’s places.  In many cases, they would hold events at their competitors’ venues, or team up with other chefs for charity events.  It wasn’t rare if we happened to overbook, that we’d call another restaurant down the street, asking if they could squeeze in a guest we didn’t have room for.  The drastic difference in restaurant/bar industry climate in 1990s Detroit vs. 2000s Philly wasn’t lost on me.  Being so close to New York, we noticed that the bar scene had a similar communal aspect, with bartenders working one or two nights a week at a few different bars.  Everyone sang everyone else’s praises to whoever would listen.

This is the climate that has been building in the Detroit area over the last few years, and it’s

"We were really nervous about how a bar with such a different concept would be received, but something special happened."
“We were really nervous about how a bar with such a different concept would be received, but something special happened.”

intoxicating.  My wife and I signed a lease on a space in downtown Ferndale just over 4 years ago that became “The Oakland,” a craft cocktail bar.  At the time, it was a very new concept that not a lot of people understood (or necessarily cared to).  We were really nervous about how a bar with such a different concept would be received, but something special happened.

For the first month or two we were open, our guests consisted almost entirely of restaurant/bar industry and retail people, who not only liked what we were doing, but told lots of other people about us.  Our business has increased steadily since we’ve opened, and we’ve relied completely on word-of-mouth rather than traditional advertising. The community of Detroit area service industry professionals is growing and strengthening.

I’ve called other owners to borrow ice when our machine was down, to send a free round to our regulars who we knew were there, asked for a bottle of something we ran out of.  We’ve also done the same for several other places near us.  If a guest mentions that they’re headed to one of our friend’s establishments, we’ve been known to send a “special delivery” (read: shot) to the bartender on duty.

If we have a guest who walks out on their bill or is unruly, or if underage kids try to drink at our bar, we send out a text to our neighbors warning them.  I’ve discussed systems and strategies dozens of times with a bar owner that we’re compared to constantly.  All of this lends itself to each establishment improving, our city’s food and drink culture growing, and ultimately a better experience for the guest.  The proof is in the pudding – GQ named Detroit the “Best Bar City in America” in their Bars Issue last August.

#DowntownFerndale
#DowntownFerndale

We were at a soft opening for a new restaurant the night before this post was written that knocked our socks off.  I counted at least 10 separate tables with owners or managers of food or drink establishments, all of whom were cheering on this new establishment.  They all raved about the new place on social media, too.

#SupportLocal

What Are You Afraid Of?

Written by Jennifer Bowden, Training & Workshop Coordinator

After years of working with job seekers, I see that for many people what holds us back isn’t our external circumstances – the job market, the economy, etc. – but our internal ones. Yes, there are factors we need to consider; child care, transportation, education, geographic location, and yes, the job market and economy are just a few.  But the internal landscape presents much more daunting obstacles:scared

Fear of change

Fear of getting stuck in a rut

Fear of leaving

Fear of staying

Fear of success

Fear of failure

Fear of what others think

Fear of starting over

Fear of rejection

Fear that you’ve “lost your touch”

Fear of looking stupid

Fear of making a bad decision

Fear of something new

Fear of things always being in upheaval

We start internal conversations and psych ourselves out of taking risks before we even have a chance to get started. “I wasn’t very good at school when I was a kid. What makes me think I’d be good at it now?” “That’s a big commitment. I probably shouldn’t even start.” “I’ll just go back to my old job.” “I have to do this because it’s what I went to school for.” “I don’t know what my options are.”

Why do we let our fears make our decisions for us? Writer and naturalist Henry David Thoreau (who certainly knows a thing or two about walking away from a situation) wrote in Walden:

“I learned this, at least, by my experiment; that if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.”

Why are you in your current situation, whatever that might be? Is it where you want to be? I love quotes – so here are some famous people giving insights on how to get unstuck and stop letting your fears rule.

“Our lives improve only when we take chances, and the first and most difficult risk we can take is to be honest with ourselves.” – Walter Anderson

Is your fear of change holding you back?

“The risk of a wrong decision is preferable to the terror of indecision.” – Maimonides

Do you think you have to be perfect?

“A man would do nothing if he waited until he could do it so well that no one would find fault with what he has done.” – Cardinal Newman

Do other people think you have to be perfect?

“Keep away from people who belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great.” – Mark Twain

You really can do this.

“Whatever you do, you need courage. Whatever course you decide upon, there is always someone to tell you that you are wrong. There are always difficulties arising that tempt you to believe your critics are right. To map out a course of action and follow it to an end requires some of the same courage that a soldier needs. Peace has its victories, but it takes brave men and women to win them.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

The effort will be worth it, even if you don’t reach your goals in the way you expect.

“You must accept that you might fail; then, if you do your best and still don’t win, at least you can be satisfied that you’ve tried. If you don’t accept failure as a possibility, you don’t set high goals, you don’t branch out, you don’t try, you don’t take the risk.” – Rosalynn Carter

There are so many quotes about risk and reward and adventure; I’d like to close with one of my favorites:

“A ship in harbor is safe, but that is not what ships are for.” – John A. Shedd

Set sail!