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

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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.

On the Road Again

by Jennifer Bowden, Training Facilitator

If you haven’t made it over to the FCC for career search or small business assistance – or one of our (great!) workshops – you’re still likely to run into the FCC staff around town. (Like Visa, we’re everywhere you want to be…)

Pam 2Our fearless leader, FCC Supervisor Pam Bellaver, is an active member of the  Board of Directors for the Ferndale Area Chamber and FernCare. She’s also a tireless cheerleader for everything Ferndale-related, from the schools to the local businesses to the many annual events that take place locally – in fact, you’ve probably already met her somewhere. She’s an uber-networker and always ready to get you connected to someone you need to know. Keep an eye out. Say hi next time – she’s a friendly gal.

Heather Headshot

The local business community and anyone active in social media have probably already met Heather Coleman-Voss, our Business Services Coordinator and resident social media super-genius.  She has Ferndale running through her veins – which is why you’ll catch her at local business events and hanging out at the Ferndale Chamber  for Marketing Mondays.  A local and regional speaker,  Heather also runs social media business workshops right here at the Ferndale Career Center.  One of her favorite things is recruiting talent for area businesses.

Michele Relay for LifeOur Administrative Assistant extraordinaire, Michele Sibula, keeps everything running smoothly here at the FCC.  Michele also chairs the Relay for Life of Ferndale.  She’s an amazing advocate for this event – even if you’ve never thought about getting involved in Relay, Michele can find a way for you to be a part of  things! From kick-starting our fundraisers and finding donations to recruiting walkers and supervising the setup, Michele is at the heart of this incredible event (and she drives one heck of a golf cart).

my picture

You’ll find my colleague Gerard Baltrusaitis at all kinds of networking and business events, since he’s an Ambassador for the Royal Oak Chamber of Commerce. He’s a fixture at libraries throughout the area, where he runs career clubs for job seekers, and he’s a featured speaker at the Hazel Park and Ferndale Adult Education programs. Gerard is the Workshop and Training Coordinator at the FCC, and we work together to bring career-oriented workshops and events to our community.

kyrsten-rueKyrsten Rue, our Youth Coordinator, is always out and about in the community. You’ll see her presenting at our Ferndale Public Schools and local colleges, educating youth on how to begin taking the first steps into the working world.  Kyrsten works directly with many area businesses, and has had a tremendous positive impact on the youth of our community and their employers. Kyrsten is also a writer and a contributor to our blog.

When I’m not busy writing blog posts and running in-house workshops, I get out and about as well. I’m a regular guest presenter, teaching career classes at Ferndale Adult Education – one of my favorite projects! – and I lead the career club at Affirmations in Ferndale, leading up to the 2nd Annual LGBT Midwest Job Expo in July. Jennifer Bowden Headshot

It’s great to be part of the Ferndale community! We’re really grateful for the local businesses that have supported our events, been guest speakers, promoted our services, referred (and hired!) our clients, attended business workshops, and generally made this an outstanding place to live and work. While there are all kinds of great things going on at the center, we love to get out into the community and help people get back to work. Keep an eye on our Facebook page for updates – and be sure to let us know how we can support you in your job search and business endeavours.

Give us a call – 248.586.8930.
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