Help keep “Mom-and-Pop” businesses alive

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By Silvana Clark

The coronavirus has altered the way Americans are spending their summer. Many people seem resigned to have a “staycation” rather than fly on a long-awaited trip to Hawaii or Europe. Those of us lucky to own RVs have the freedom to travel while still practicing social distancing.

So how about considering supporting local businesses whenever we travel? Think about the small mom-and-pop bakery that is a centerpiece of a community. The owners know their customers by name and supply cakes for the high school graduation party. With the lockdown, many stores and restaurants have been shut down. Now as things start to open up, RVers can help by getting a treat at “Barb’s Bakery” rather than a large grocery chain.

Supporting local businesses puts money back in the community. When you shop at a cute, locally owned boutique to get your granddaughter a gift, you’re helping that store keep staff employed. Those staff, in turn, have money to pay their mortgage and get their own treats at Barb’s Bakery. Big Box stores serve a purpose, of course, but often the heart and soul of a community is the small locally owned restaurant that is a favorite hangout for families. Maybe it’s the weekly Farmer’s Market featuring fresh vegetables grown a few miles away.

As RVers, we seek out quaint and interesting towns to discover on our travels. In many cases, it’s the whimsical artwork, cozy restaurants and unique shops that give that place its distinct personality. It’s easy to pull your fifth wheel into the large parking lot connected to Applebee’s.

But how about taking a few minutes to find a side street where you can park and walk to a restaurant serving “authentic German Schnitzel, made by Oma herself”? After stuffing yourself with dumplings, sauerkraut and schnitzel, post a favorable review on their website. That simple gesture often produces increased business. Can you imagine what it would be like to visit a popular place like Solvang, California, or Leavenworth, Washington, and see “Closed” on all the locally owned shops and restaurants?

Shopping at a store owned by a quirky, retired-horse-trainer-turned-boutique-owner adds an element of fun (especially if you chat with the owner). How often can you find a gift shop selling beer-scented candles or a sunflower-growing kit packaged in an egg carton? So buy your RV toilet paper at Walmart. Then try to eat and shop at locally owned businesses that create the interesting communities we like to visit while RVing.

##RVT956

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Tony Sauer
3 months ago

We live in a small town and do most of our shopping and eating at locally owned Operations. We try to do the same when traveling. In the past year we’ve seen two locally run Ace Hardware Stores near a couple of our favorite campgrounds close down. Unfortunately the big boxes a few miles away must have attracted their customer base. I’d much rather pay a few pennies, even a few dollars more to support the locals who are the fabric of the communities we enjoy so much.

Captn John
3 months ago

We travel a lot and almost never buy at the chain stores or restaurants. I do use the major truck stops for fuel as it is safest, less expensive, and convenient. One chain I avoid like Corona 19 is KOA. We like lots of craft shops for hand made gifts.

Steve from Alaska
3 months ago

My wife and I live in Alaska and in order to visit family, it is a 2,500 mile trek across Canada to get to the ‘lower 48’ to start our journey! Then another 3,000-5,000 lies to get to our families states! It is a major, beautiful trip and usually pretty expensive to make the journey! But we love it and we love meeting people along the way and shopping at all the quaint places offered by the locals!

My wife usually does Christmas shopping at all the RV Parks and small shops we find along the trip and she picks up some wonderful items for family members!! This year, however, the border is closed to all “non-essential” travel and we are spending all our travel time in Alaska, but for those of you that have been here, you know that that isn’t too bad! We just hope that things calm down by next year so we can travel to the ‘lower 48’ to see family and friends and buy more Christmas gifts from the unique stores along the route!!

wanderer
3 months ago

Good reminder. I am always amazed to see RVers spend ALL their money either at a Love’s or a Wal-Mart, as if it makes no difference to the network of small businesses that keep small town America alive.

Patricia Panuccio
3 months ago

You have to tell where to buy the beer scented candles and sunflower kit. come on give it up.

Laurie
3 months ago

My hubby and I (not that it matters, but long time RV’ers will be hitting the road tomorrow for some much needed open road and fresh air. I’ve already planned to spend the majority of my fun money at locally owned eateries and shops.

Drew
3 months ago

Our small business owners are heroes too. Sometimes it amazes me how they adapt and go on in this challenging time. We support them every day and hope that at some point they can enjoy the freedom to conduct their businesses without government intervention.