I’m doing something for this editorial I hardly ever do anymore, but that I once did regularly. I’m writing it somewhere other than my home office. Working from home is a blessing, truly, and I love it both for The Breeze and for my “day job” – which is quickly transitioning in my mind’s eye to simply my “other job” instead of other nicknames.
But sometimes you really want to get out of the house and interact with the people. And you want a place to give you more inspiration and fuel your imagination. Enter, the locally owned business. Sure I could write this column at a Starbucks (and franchises ARE locally owned, but that’s a topic for a future column) or a McDonald’s with WiFi. However, for today’s writing assignment I’m doing it at the Main Street Market in Rutherfordton. It’s a locally owned deli right in the heart of main street for our county seat.
There are a lot of restaurants around the area and plenty of places in Lake Lure and Chimney Rock where I could probably set up my tablet and the ole Bluetooth keyboard and hammer away at some hopefully not too wordy treatise on the topic at hand, but I felt this one would be really appropriate as I want to encourage more engagement with marquee mercantile rustic restaurants in our area.
Starbucks and McDonald’s are wonders of the 20th century, but here in the 21st century I think many people are starting to wise up to the necessity of a shop that is owned by a local and isn’t part of a corporation. I’m not one of those journalists who think corps are always bad. I do, though, think that local businesses are almost always good. Not that they are good in the moral sense all the time – plenty of times that isn’t the case unfortunately – but they’re good for us even having a community to begin with.
If every eatery is run by a mermaid or a clown in a red wig, then where does our local spirit go? What happens to our sense of community if we are all cookie-cutter and the same franchises? Small town businesses like this one I’m in at Main Street or the newly opened Scoops Ice Cream or any number of local shops have more of a personality. They have more of an impact on the community by giving us a place to gather, share news, spread juicy gossip or whatever else may be on the menu for community watering holes.
Sure, we can do this online, but that, too has its own lack of a sense of personality and lack of a spirit of truly connecting to people. Too often we focus on better financial health, better physical health, better mental health and even better economic health without remembering to focus on our better spiritual health. Religion is a key part of it for most of us, but even for those who don’t necessarily believe in a higher power they need to nurture their spirit as they gather with their friends, family and neighbors. And having a unique spot to do it is key to having a healthy and vibrant 21st century town, instead of just a collection of boxes we all live in while we wait for our Postmates and work away the hours in our home offices.
I encourage you all to check out locally-owned businesses today. I hear there’s a good selection of listings and advertisements for them right here in this very newspaper – which also just happens to be locally-owned, too, ya know?