Walking the Talk
By Cyndi Grasman
A few weeks ago I was in line behind a couple of locals waiting to order coffee. I heard them discussing how excited they were that Labor Day was almost here and they would have “their town” back. All those pesky tourists would finally be gone and they could enjoy “their town” again.
This is not the first time I have heard this. In fact, this time every year I hear that sentiment repeated over and over again. However, what they don’t consider is that not everyone is happy to see the tourists go. Labor Day marks the beginning of the dry season for the merchants, where they hope that sales to the locals will be enough to get them through till the next summer. I know. I used to own a business in Laguna Beach.
A week later I read in the newspaper that Latitude 33 Bookshop was going out of business and it made me remember the conversation I had overheard. The author of the article talked about it being partly his fault, because he shops for many of his books on-line. I felt angry at him, but then I realized it was partly my fault too. I am just as guilty of ordering off Amazon and other sites. I then felt shame because when I had to close my shop in Laguna Beach I was angry at the citizens of Laguna Beach for not supporting me and “shopping locally”.
It was then that I decided to put my money where my mouth is or more precisely to put my money into the local businesses of Laguna Beach. I’ve decided to only shop locally for the next year, starting after Labor Day weekend when the tourists go home. Be it new clothes, groceries, dinner, car repairs, hardware supplies, gym membership or whatever I will only buy locally (no internet shopping, no shopping in other cities) and whenever possible from an independent operator. Of course there will be a few exceptions. I won’t give up attending a friend’s birthday if they hold it at a restaurant outside of Laguna Beach. And certain items I may not be able to obtain in Laguna Beach, but for those rare instances I will first ask myself if I really need that item and if I do, try to find a local vendor who can special order it for me.
In the next year I hope to give back to the city I love so much and support our local merchants with what really counts, my buying power. I also hope to inspire others to do the same. The citizens of Laguna Beach need to stand behind our small business owners and support them so we don’t watch another wonderful independent shop like Latitude 33 close it’s doors. I challenge each and every one of you to buy locally. The next time you are about to order something on-line stop and ask yourself if you could go to town and get it.
Periodic articles will introduce you to merchants you may not know and recount my adventures buying locally and describing the adjustments I have to make to do so. I will also be keeping a weekly blog that you can check out at CyndiGshopsintheLB.blogspot.com.
I know that this is not going to be an easy task. (I am already worried about what I will do when I need a new pair of running shoes. Ideas anyone?) But I believe our merchants, who help make Laguna the unique town that it is, are worth any extra effort that I might have to put forward. I hope you all feel the same way and join me in spending your money locally.
Cyndi Grasman, a 20-year resident, is the former co-owner of Navajo West, which sold Native American jewelry and artifacts. She now cooks up gourmet wedding favors and runs cocktail pairing parties. Reach her at email@example.com.