I have been wanting to support local businesses more. There are so many reasons to do this. It helps the economy of your town, you get to discover restaurants and stores that you would have never known about, and you avoid the greasy fries at McDonalds.
This idea came to me only a few days ago, as I explored West Chester, a town about 15 miles away. The downtown was lined with cute little restaurants, cafes, and shops. I only recognized one chain (a Starbucks, of course) amidst all of the local shops. The shop right next to Starbucks was a little stand that sold tacos and fresh juice. While the latter sounds good to me, the number of people in Starbucks (coming in and out, dozens already seated) compared to the number of people lined up at the taco stand (one) was terrible.
I have always thought about it and encouraged my friends to try downtown restaurants instead of going to chains, but I have never committed to doing it. Knowing my reputation of actually doing things when there is a time limit or goal, I decided to eat local for one year.
I have already found so many independent restaurants that are fabulous. My favorite Thai restaurant, my favorite burger place in Philly, my favorite cafe, my favorite vegan restaurant - they are all independent.
Although I started a few days ago, I bumped my official "start" date up to June, just because it sounds better and is easier to remember. From June 1st 2015 to June 1st 2016, I will be choosing local restaurants to eat at and local cafes for coffee. While I am sure I will still shop at grocery stores and Target, I will keep my eye out for local stores and farmer's markets that I can also shop at.
Exceptions - When a big group of friends, or the bridal party of my best friend's wedding, or a family friend's big family all decide to eat out - I am not going to miss out just because they go to Applebees. I'm going to spend time with my friends, even if they vote on going to a chain restaurant. This happens rarely and to me, it is more important to make memories with your friends than prove a point and complete a challenge.
However, when it is my choice, or when I am going out with a few friends and I have a big say in where we go, or when I go on a date with Nick (I already convinced him to try this with me), I'll try somewhere independently owned.
I know some of you aren't able to commit to a whole year, but if you ever discover an independent restaurant/cafe/store, write a blogpost about it to encourage your local friends to try it. Comment with your link below - I'd love to see it!
Follow my instagram here and my twitter here as I'll be sharing each time I discover a local shop. Use the hashtag #oneyearlocal whenever you find an awesome independent restaurant or store, I'd love to see what you all discover!
About the picture at the top, for all of you coffee addicts, you probably recognized the green straw. Yes, it is a carmel macchiato made with coconut milk from..Starbucks! A few days ago, I used up my Starbucks gift card (so that I could have no excuse to cheat). I had to photograph it because it was my last purchase from a chain for (at least) one year. Here's to one year local!