by Jeanna O’Connor Co-Editor for The Pulse
We’ve all heard “Your voice is your vote,” but what about your dollar? Do you think about the values of the owners of the businesses you frequent? Does it matter to you if they’re not in alignment with yours? Local businesses depend on us to help them stay afloat, especially during trying times like the last year. Because we live in a more rural, red area it is imperative that we give our local progressive businesses our dollars. If we value local progressive businesses, and I know we do, we must be the change we want to see. These businesses are critical to diversity in our community and they need our dollars.
When you shop at a locally owned and operated business you’re guaranteeing that your neighbor can pay her bills. When you patronize local businesses on the Winchester pedestrian mall, you’re helping to provide a centralized variety of goods that is much friendlier to the community’s walk score. This generally means contributing less to sprawl, congestion, habitat loss and pollution.
Small local businesses are the largest employers nationally, according to The Local Good, a hub that helps people live a more local and green lifestyle. Local businesses also provide better customer service because the people working in these businesses are our neighbors. When I needed Ruth Bader Ginsburg pin dolls for Christmas stockings, Tin Top Art and Handmade had an artisan make them for me! Christine Patrick at Winchester Book Gallery knows the types of books I like and always has a recommendation for my new read. That’s customer service!
I asked Brian Pellatt, co-owner of Bonnie Blue Southern Market and Bakery, how they stay true to their progressive values, without alienating those customers who don’t share those values. He replied, “We don’t consider the business to be Democrat or Republican, regardless of our personal politics. The business’s values are focused on the community. We are local and engaged in support of all members of that community, especially those most in need of support. While it’s possible that the political climate can make that support seem alienating at times, we believe in the kindness and compassion of our community and that’s what we’ve seen the most in the past year.”
Well said, Brian!
We know the stories of one of the founders of Home Depot being a vocal Trump donor, or Walmart’s PAC being a big donor to Republican candidates for Congress who vote against gun reform measures. Are you also aware that the Hideaway Cafe on S. Loudoun Street runs a summer lunch program to help ensure that our local children aren’t going hungry when school is not in session? Or that Bonnie Blue has taken a lot of flack for the Black Lives Matter sign in their front window, but refused to remove the sign?
Some of our local businesses are more willing than others to step out and show that they are progressive. Christine Patrick of Winchester Book Gallery, when asked if it is important to keep your progressive values in mind when you’re making decisions about your business said, “Yes, it is very important to me that I keep my values in mind as I develop and manage my business. The idea is to reflect, engage and compel our community as a whole and as individuals. This means that I work hard to curate the collection at the Book Gallery, making each decision to demonstrate the diversity of our community and finding success that enables progressive change.”
According to Independent We Stand, an organization that helps promote independent businesses and buying local, for every $100 you spend at an independent business $68 remains in the community, as opposed to only $43 for chain stores. You also embrace what makes our community unique and help nurture the sense of community we are all looking for. Spending locally instead of online insures that your sales taxes are reinvested where they belong – in our community! The more interesting and unique our community, the more we will attract new neighbors, visitors, and guests. Nurturing local business ensures a strong community. Studies have shown that local businesses donate to community causes at more than twice the rate of chain stores.
We all know of local businesses whose politics we find egregious. Or have gone into businesses where employees are loudly voicing misinformation or outright lies that benefit their political narrative. Why shop at those businesses when there are options locally that embrace our values? Winchester and Frederick County are blessed with many great businesses owned and run by progressives, and our dollars will help them keep the lights on. Let’s support the businesses that share our values! As the saying goes, Think Globally, Act Locally.
Below is a short — not exhaustive — list of businesses in our area owned and run by progressives. They are counting on us to help them stay in business, and expand and grow in our community. If you know of others, let us know and we’ll add them.
Winchester Book Gallery
Bonnie Blue Southern Market and Bakery
Jordan Springs Market
Water Street Kitchen
Village Square Restaurant and V2 Oyster Bar and Lounge
Tin Top Art and Handmade
Oak Stone Craft Pizza and Bar
Georgia Lassiter, Attorney at Law