I was going to work on an article or my book with my afternoon writing time today, but I changed my mind. Instead, while sitting in my favorite Old Town coffee shop, Cafe Ardour, I’m contemplating the cost of following one’s passion and the gamble of dreams.
When I got out of my car I saw that the environmentally friendly Green Logic store next to Cafe Ardour is going out of business. I confess, I’ve not shopped there often. Mostly because the things they sell are things I tend not to buy often – new sheets, towels, dishware, handbags, jewelry – all environmentally responsible. It’s not that I don’t need/use these things, but I tend to run my stuff into the ground before I replace it and am not often in the market for most of these things. I’m also notoriously cheap about my own clothing, but that’s a WHOLE other unwritten blog post. Let’s just say, I’m not exactly a super-consumer and I spend a lot of time at the library.
That said, I went in to Green Logic and picked up a new necklace and a t-shirt for Jim because everything that’s left when the doors close is salt in the wounds of one dream ending. This is the blessing and curse of living in Fort Collins where many local business take root, mostly in Old Town but some closer to our home. Sometimes they close, and whenever I walk past a shuttered locally owned storefront, I think, “That was someone’s dream,” and my heart breaks for the person who had to lock it up. When the local Runza closed, Moira, age nine, swore off McDonald’s for ruining her favorite (locally owned) burger joint. When Moxie Java closed, Jim and I grieved for months. We were lucky Truman’s took its place.
Aside from the tragedy of failed dreams, there is a more practical reason to support local businesses. Local businesses ALWAYS give local charities more support (both socially and financially) than big box stores. The Children’s Heart Foundation, Colorado Chapter would not exist without the support of local business owners like Desiree, Mat, Carrie, and Amy. These are real people behind local businesses that support the nonprofit work that is my passion.
I am an unwavering loyal customer to people who believe in my passions. Which brings me back to Cafe Ardour. They’ve never actually given me a donation, but they’ve given me the physical and creative space where I wrote most of my first book. When my book came out they gave me prime real estate on their wall to put my book-signing posters. They know me when I come in for my coffee. It’s a writer-friendly place.
It takes a huge investment not only of money but of hope and faith to start your own business and keep it local. It does take a little more effort and probably a little more money to forgo WalMart and shop at your locally owned neighborhood stores for things you don’t need but just want. I am not preachy. I don’t like preachy. I like accountability and self-determination. I determine that all gifts and niceties (things that aren’t toilet paper and the like) and meals eaten out will purchased from locally owned businesses or franchises (like Culver’s, Learning Express, or ACE which are locally owned).
You will decide if you agree with me or not, but if you do, maybe just start with gifts? We have locally owned toy stores, book stores, and stores of all sorts. And maybe join me some late afternoon while I’m writing at Cafe Ardour or some Friday morning when I’m having coffee at Truman’s, and have a great cup of coffee that tastes all the richer because it’s helping someone in our community build a dream that makes our whole community a better place to live.