Lake Highlands business owners point out that supporting local retail doesn’t just mean shopping there. In the case of resale, consignment or thrift stores, donations are also a significant consideration.
From time to time I will bag up clothing and drop it in bin on the way to work. Usually it’s the one outside Eastlake Vet Hospital, because I passively understand it helps that local business, but I never put much thought into it and usually go with whatever is most convenient for me.
Last night I attended a meeting of Lake Highlands business owners who are forming a Lake Highlands Chamber of Commerce (which I will write more about soon) and was encouraged by the the conversation about Lake Highlands’ business culture, opportunities and challenges, some of which can begin to be addressed through mere communication.
Sustained shop-local pressure is one of our clear needs — educate ourselves regarding the myriad benefits of boosting local business. Share the info with others. Cultivate a neighborhood-wide understanding of the need to support local businesses. Pressure your neighbors to shop local. Thriving businesses have a ripple effect and bring in more businesses. We know this somewhere in our soul, right? But making an impact in our little corner of the community requires thinking more about little things—heading to The Store or T. Hee Greetings rather than Target for a gift. Lunching at Highlands Cafe rather than Applebees, for example.
Which brings me back to the donation bins. The guys who own Urban Thrift (Audelia at Walnut Hill) made the point at the meeting that many of the neighborhood’s donation bins, while they often benefit very worthy causes, aren’t all directly supporting our neighborhood’s economy or philanthropy.
In addition to being a for-profit business (which, by the way, brings a cool/funky vibe and good shopping to the ‘hood), Urban Thrift donates portions of its profits to church and school programs. One of those churches, LH United Methodist, is doing tons of work in the poverty and crime afflicted apartments of Lake Highlands. So by dropping your goods donations at Urban Thrift, you support two young entrepreneurs who believe in Lake Highlands, you aid a church that has programs that effectively will reduce crime and improve quality of life … see where I am going with this? The ripple effect, again.
Not implying the non-local nonprofits shouldn’t get your support. Definitely not saying I’ll stop donating items to Eastlake, another hugely impactful neighborhood business. Just noting that part of the path to making our local business scene explode is pondering more comprehensively where we shop, eat, donate and get our vehicles inspected, to name a few, and how our choices can impact the community and get us to that prosperous point faster.