I've been thinking a lot about community and localism and the new economy lately. I'm sure that you've noticed more and more empty storefronts in Montclair Village and on Park St. Every day, the news media pounds the drums of economic gloom and doom, and customers like you ask me "Are you doing okay?," with a great deal of concern in their voice.
We're doing fine here at Farmstead, and thanks for asking. Business is down a bit, but it's down everywhere, and Carol, the staff and I are truly blessed to have located our shops in Alameda and Montclair Village - two communities that have been been more than superlative in supporting local, family owned businesses.
I wonder what my community would be like if there were no shoe repair shop and I'd have to drive miles to get a prescription filled or to have my computer repaired. I shudder when I think of the suburban sprawl that I see in my travels - chain stores, big boxes and franchise restaurants as far as the eye can see.
I try to shop locally, and go out of my way whenever possible to buy from locally owned businesses. It may cost me a buck or two more, but I feel that somehow I am paying it forward. I understand that I have a responsibility to keep my hard earned dollars in my own community.
Yet, I still get my DVDs from Netflix, my toilet paper from Costco and dog treats from Trader Joe's instead of the local alternatives, and I occasionally just have to have a burger from In and Out instead of the sublime ones available at The Wood Tavern.
Does occasionally shopping at big boxes make me an evil hypocrite? I don't think so. What it does mean is that perhaps we could all be a bit more conscious of the economic power that each of us possess in our wallets and purses. This isn't meant to be a plea for you to spend more money at Farmstead (although we'd certainly welcome your patronage), just a reminder to maybe think about the potential ramifications of the choices that we all make each and every day.