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KEEP IT LOCAL AND REBUILD OUR COMMUNITY
BY MICHELLE VIJGEN
PHOTOS BY TUCKER JOENZ
When we asked local retail advocate Michelle Vijgen (who also is the owner/ operator of Spanish Dutch Convoy) to write an article about the impact to the community of shopping locally for the holidays (and any other time, for that matter), We were thinking that it would be great to explain just why it’s so important to spend your giving dollars in our wonderful shops and boutiques which we have all throughout the county. Gift-giving is an important part of the holiday season and, if you’re going to do it, our thought was that you might as well do it locally and stimulate the economy here at home at the same time.
After Hurricane Matthew hit, our initial thought was that we would need to drop it — everything was so uncertain and how do we talk about shopping when the city just went through one of the worst natural disasters to hit the area in decades? Wouldn’t that seem rather… insensitive?
We gave it some more thought and here’s the thing — there are people employed by the shops that are now back open (sadly, some suffered so badly that they will not make it back). If nobody is supporting them, then they don’t have jobs. If they don’t have jobs, they can’t pay their bills, can’t buy gas, food, clothes…
You get the picture. People are going to holiday shop. By holiday shopping HERE, you keep those people employed and they can support themselves and their community (they shop, too!). We have so many wonderful shops, boutiques, spas, restaurants, etc. that you don’t have to go to one of the major chains to get that special someone that special something, or that Legos Death Star set (wow, YOU are generous!) sure to be started on the minute they open it up (keeping them blissfully entertained for HOURS while the parents recuperate from the 5 a.m. wakeup).
So, put your money where your heart is. You’ll be glad you did.
I never imagined when I sat down to write a piece about shopping local for the Holiday’s that our town would be hit by the beast, Hurricane Matthew. I never imagined fleeing the Island with my husband, and our new baby on the way, praying that we would return home to, well…a home. And a business. I never imagined any of it. None of us did.
But the reality is that Matthew happened and he happened hard. To all of us. Little damage, no damage, a lot of damage, total destruction. We are all feeling the aftermath of Matthew hitting our beautiful town. So, really this article is more relevant now than ever before. Because, you see, on the heels of a natural disaster is often an economic disaster. And Lord knows that after all we’ve been through we really don’t need to face another disaster. Please do all you can, to shop local and keep as many dollars in our local economy as possible. Those dollars count now more than ever. They will keep our payrolls strong, our first responders safe, help rebuild our community, and keep our people employed.
When you go to shop and spend over the next few months, please spend your money where your heart is. Thank you and blessings to you.
When you’re asked to name your favorite spot to eat, shop, or grab coffee, you will most likely mention a uniquely local spot. Every year we even run a “Best Of” competition in our local paper to show how much we love these local businesses. They are the first spots we hit up for silent auction donations,to support our local sports teams, or to place ads in the programs for the theater department’s latest production. Whether we realize it or not, we often rely on these local businesses to help define our sense of place and our local character and to support our philanthropic needs as a community. So, while every day is a great day to shop local, there is no time like the holidays to spend your money where your heart is.
While it makes us feel good to shop local, there is no disputing the positive impact shopping local has on our community. Pop into any local shop in town, spend one hundred dollars, and sixty-eight of those dollars will stay right here in our town. Hit up a big box store and only forty-three of your one hundred dollars will stay in town. By spending your money in local shops, you are supporting our schools, police and fire departments, paving our streets, and improving our quality of life. Local business owners often support other small businesses, so you really are paying it forward.
And here is a staggering fact: nonprofit organizations receive on average 250% more support from small business owners than they do from large retailers. The economic impact is staggering and the statistics go on and on and on.
Economic impact aside, where we shop, where we eat, and where we have fun makes our community home. It is these local businesses that are imperative to keeping our unique and cultural identity alive and give us our St. Augustine character. And having a marketplace of many small businesses allows you to buy and eat what you want…not what a corprate sales team thinks you should eat, drink, or purchase. Small business owners select products based on the needs of their local community and you dictate that demand. It also means that you will often get better customer service, as the business owners have a better understanding of the products they are selling and are more likely to take the time to get to know their customer and their needs. And you will likely never have to dial a 1-800 number and go through five minutes of prompts to actually get a human to help you on the phone.
If protecting the environment is important to you, there is no question that shopping local should be your jam. Shopping local stores and eating at localrestaurants seriously reduces your environmental impact. Local establishments are likely to make local purchases or locally-made products which require less transportation, and they tend to set up shops in town or city centers. This means less local sprawl and contributes to the idea of a walkable city. Local restaurants often support local farms and buy produce that is in season, which means your food has a very short field-to-fork journey. And, along with one local business supporting another local business, the food that is purchased by local farmers is likely to contain less chemicals, more nutrients, and have less packaging. Your environmental footprint just keeps getting smaller while your economic impact keeps growing.
Most of all, shopping local will strengthen your community. These businesses are owned by your neighbors. They go to your church, coach your kid’s soccer team, and sit behind you in the car line at school. You are supporting your neighbors, your friends, your town…you really are spending your money where your heart is. So shop hard this holiday season… and shop local.
Located on the Boulevard, this iconic boutique has long been a staple to the St. Augustine fashion community. Founded by Tom and Karen Rochelle in 1984, Rochelle’s is known for bringing the most fashionable and modern collection to our seaside town. They have been voted “best boutique” year after year…and deservedly so. Shop here for the latest from Ella Moss, Hardtail, Analili…just to name a few. Tom and Karen are hands-on owners and will personally help you find the perfect gift of the perfect outfit for your holiday parties.
HW DAVIS CLOTHING & SHOES
HW Davis is your downtown source for men’s and women’s apparel and accessories. They are also one of the oldest businesses in our community. And, once you see their massive selection of clothing, accessories, shoes, and sunglasses, you will see why. Shop here for Tommy Bahama, Reef, Teva, and Brighton. And don’t forget that city parking meter lots are free on Sunday…so no parking excuses allowed. They are totally worth the trip and love to serve the community they are honored to be a part of.
Here’s your chance to get fashion for a fraction. Christe’ Blue is known for their amazing selection of vintage and contemporary, upscale, resale fashion and it’s a great place to find that unusual something for that hard-to shop-for loved one. Go with plenty of time to explore their huge collection of estate and costume jewelry and designer goods.
Heading to the Island to do your shopping this season? Be sure to check out Retail Therapy in the Publix Plaza. They are known for a great selection of trendy pieces at affordable prices. They also carry a lot of locally made jewelry, including Short Dog Jewelry… one of our favorites.
This year, 360 Boutique celebrates 15 years of serving the Uptown community. Long before San Marco was the eclectic mix of shopping that it is today, Helena opened her doors and hung her sign and set out to make a name in St. Augustine’s fashion industry. She has a solid local following and offers a fun, eclectic collection of feminine, comfortable clothing, shoes, and accessories at affordable prices. This is also a great spot to shop for the vegan in your life as she offers vegan bags and shoes.
Owned by a dynamic Flagler grad duo, this spot is a boho beauty’s dream come true. Check out their collection of clothing, shoes, and accessories and please do not pass by their vintage selection where you will totally score something unique and cool.
OLDE TOWNE TOYS
Want really fun, cool, educational toys? Check out this super fun, cool store located on US1 that is owned by a couple of local moms who wanted just that! All year long they work on bringing in new and exciting toys and books and even attend the ASTRA Toy Fair, which is a show geared just for the specialty toy store. This shop encourages you to stop by and play and check out the samples of toys before you buy. Once you come in and enjoy the experience…you’ll be shopping local for all your kid’s toys.
Looking for something fab, funky, and fun? Here’s your spot! Located on the Island, this old house has been converted into an art lovers dream. Simple Gestures has curated an eclectic mix of jewelry, artwork, pottery, and stained glass, mostly made by local artists. Grab a gift from this gem and your will surely make someone’s holiday
This downtown gallery is stocked full, full, full of local art in a variety of mediums including steel and cooper sculpture, hand blown glass, mosaics, seaglass, and jewelry. Check them out during First Friday Artwalk and you might even get to meet an artist or watch local painters practicing their craft.
Amistad, which means friendship, is a fair trade shop on the island that specializes in handcrafted products made by artisans from around the world. As you shop the store, you will hear the stories behind the products and learn how your purchase actually impacts the lives of the artist. They also hold special events throughout the year to help local charities, too.
In 1994, the gas station/surf shop stopped selling gas and starting selling more surf…the owner’s true passion and the rest is history. They are now the City’s largest surf store with a huge local presence and a huge national presence as well. Consistently voted the best surf shop, this is the must stop shop for the surfer in your life. They cater to every level of surfer and carry everything you need from wax to wetsuits. But most important, the customer service is unreal. The staff knows surfing inside and out and they are passionate about what they do.
ST. AUGUSTINE TEXTILES
Located down a hidden pathway off St. George Street, this shop is a history lover’s dream come true. Stop by and meet proprietors Jon and Gidget Williams and see what living history is all about. Shop their unique collection of historic toys or be outfitted in custom gear. Either way, Viva St. Augustine!
This Island, homegoods boutique is all about great selection and excellent customer service. Stop by and shop an extended collection of fine gift brands, luxury body products, and luxury candles. The hot spot has plenty of parking and lots to look at so be sure to allot some time to do some serious shopping.
WEST TO EAST
Owned by a Flagler grad and her husband, West to East specializes in specialty gifts, home accents, and furnishings. One of the greatest reasons to head to Uptown and check out this shop is their fabulous kids’ corner. They carry the cutest clothes and baby gifts from Milkbarn and highly sought-after moccasins from Freshly Picked.
Need another great reason to shop Uptown? Hit up dhdHOME for the perfect gift for just about everyone on your list. This isn’t just a furniture store. Check out their quirky tea towels, luxurious candles, or bowties made entirely of feathers.
PEACE LOVE HOME
This interior design and retail showroom offers an ever changing selection of furniture, lamps, rugs and accessories. It’s a great spot to hit up if you’re looking to spruce up your home for the holidays or for that special gift for your favorite hostess.
THE RED SABLE ART SUPPLY
It was always Melissa Roby’s dream to own an art store…and now she does! The owner of Red Sable Art Supply started out small — occupying a space at St. Johns Printing but now takes up an entire building on South Dixie Highway. The change allowed her to expand her stock, plus allowed for enough room a gallery and area for art classes. Their aim is to provide professional and student artists with the supplies they need within their budget without having to settle with what big box stores offer or wait for much needed materials in the mail.
LOOKING FOR A FUN WAY TO SHOP LOCAL THIS HOLIDAY SEASON? CHECK OUT THESE AWESOME EVENTS THAT NOT ONLY ENCOURAGE SHOPPING LOCAL BUT GIVE BACK TO OUR COMMUNITY TOO!
SMALL BUSINESS SATURDAY
SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 26, 2016
So, what the heck is it? Way back in 2010, American Express launched Small Business Saturday to encourage people across the country to support small and local businesses. The day has become as famous as Black Friday and to say it is growing momentum is an understatement. According to Forbes, 2015 Small Business Saturday spending topped $16.2 billion and millions upon millions of shoppers participated. Small businesses often get lost in the huge global market we know today, and this day encourages people everywhere to shop small and local and change the world one little bit at a time. Hit the streets this Small Business Saturday and be a part of a movement while you are spending your money where your heart is.
If you don’t have a Park Now card…grab one. And while you are at it, grab some for stocking stuffers too! This card was designed for locals and frequent downtown shoppers and diners to help you get the most bang for your parking buck. Here’s the skinny…
Park Now cards can be purchased at the Finance Office during regular business hours and can be recharged 24/7 at the reload stations located at 50 Bridge Street or at the Visitor Information Center. With this handy card, parking downtown is steeply discounted at the parking garage and City meters.
WITH THE PARK NOW CARD
Meters $0.50 per hour v. $1.50 per hour
Parking Garage $3.00 per entry v. $12.00 per entry
Handicap parking is always free at any City meter or City meter lot. And parking is FREE on Sundays at any City meter or City meter lot for anyone!! And if you are looking for an early cup of joe downtown, the Plaza meters don’t start ticking until 10 am.