We all know the benefits of eating local. It’s better, fresher food. It may be a little more expensive but we’re willing to pay the extra because we understand the importance of supporting local agriculture and jobs.
And we know local doesn’t end with broccoli and eggs. Our city is full of small businesses that are trying to survive in a very competitive atmosphere. Among these businesses are massage practitioners, family owned restaurants, beauty shops, contractors, landscapers, and yoga studios like Spira. Local businesses can provide for just about any of our needs.
So how do we best support these businesses?
My initial hope with the advent of internet was that this new technology would lead to a fairer playing field; but now I know that’s just not true. Big businesses are willing to put big money behind search engine optimizations and advertisements. Sometimes what’s easily visible on the internet is just a reflection of the cash behind the business.
With some of the same technology came the advent of companies who sell online coupons for local businesses, keeping a portion of their profit, like Groupon, Amazon, LivingSocial–the list keeps growing. Groupon has been supportive and wonderful for my business. They understand my need to limit their customers to new clients only, and they restrict the number of groupons sold to a controllable volume. I would go out of business if I had return customers buying through Groupon. The new players are Fitmob and ClassPass. I’m not sure how they’ll effect business. All I can do is watch and wait.
Small businesses are forced to use these platforms because traditional marketing is too expensive, and most importantly, it no longer works. If a small business wants to bring in new customers, the best bet is to go through one of the above mentioned companies with a deal and use their internet powers to get much needed visibility on the web. But here’s the catch. When we use these platforms our dance is a precarious one. We’re balancing visibility with extreme revenue loss. There is no way to make a living off of what any of these platforms are offering. Honestly, I don’t know if this balancing act is sustainable in the long run.
For any small business to thrive, it depends on local support. As a community we need to recognize that it’s not just our farmers who give local flavor. It’s all of us: stylists, cleaners, teachers, therapists, artists, chefs, the list goes on. If we want to live in a city where we have access to family owned stores and services, not just chains stores and conglomerates, then we have to be willing to support these local businesses.
There is one way to support local family owned businesses. Buy from them! Don’t go through a secondary source with a discount. If you can afford it, pay full price directly to the business. Seattle has gone through a major growth spurt. This means that the city is becoming more expense, and business leases are skyrocketing. As a small business owner I often feel small in the face of all these challenges. I was particularly frustrated one afternoon after a phone conversation with one of the online coupon companies. But as I walked into the yoga studio and greeted my students, I took a deep breath, and smiled. The solution was right front of me.
I believe in the spirit of our community in West Seattle, and I believe when folks decide to work together we can be as strong as any large corporation. So let’s be strong, let’s work together, let’s support each other. Below you’ll find some small businesses in our community. These are the folks practicing right next to you–get to know them, and next time you would like a massage, high quality chocolate, landscaping, or chiropractor, choose local! There is no better guarantee of quality than knowing that we wish to share the same space in the future…
Interested in grassroots cross advertising with Spira? Write to Dora at firstname.lastname@example.org
If you think this message is important, help us spread the word. Forward it, share it on twitter, Facebook, wherever you share nowadays. Help spread the word. Every human touch counts!
Buy from our local businesses, and help support our community!
Thank you – Dora
Massage Therapy by Lauren Allen:
I’ve been practicing at Spira since 2011. I knew after my first class that I had found a very special place, and a kind of practice that would, and has proven to be life changing. One of my favorite features of Spira is the freedom and encouragement I receive from teachers to have the kind of practice I need, whatever it may be that day. I am constantly being reminded to “balance effort with ease,” as Dora would say, which translates into the rest of my life off of the mat.
I have been a Licensed Massage Practitioner since 2003 and have my own practice in West Seattle. One of my favorite parts about giving massage is it keeps me in the present moment (this is one of my favorite parts of yoga as well!). Everyone is unique and responds differently to touch. I believe that this is where the “art” of massage comes in to play; it’s really about the art of being present, and being in the present moment is a sweet place to be. My job is never boring, it’s never the same twice, and my clients have been wonderful teachers. I also get to keep my practice fresh by taking interesting classes with interesting people and then incorporating what I have learned into my practice. My clients like this too, of course. I go work and help people feel better; it doesn’t get much better than that. www.laurenallenmassage.com
Soulever Chocolates by Aimee:
Even though I live in Upper Queen Anne I still travel to Spira Yoga in West Seattle to practice; it is by far my favorite studio in the city. My practice has become more meaningful to me since I began coming here in 2012. I really like the mildly heated studio, most especially in the rainy season, and the instructors are each unique in their teaching styles, and I connect with all of them.
I am happiest on the mat, and in the kitchen. Five years ago, I taught myself the art of making chocolate because I wanted to learn how to do it healthier, without all the sugar or dairy- which I’m allergic to. I’ve replaced these common ingredients with raw honey, raw coconut nectar and coconut oil, and it works stunningly. I like that I can play around with the savory and sweet ingredients, chocolate is a great partner for both. What was a personal passion became my business in 2014, Soulever Chocolates. www.souleverchocolates.com
Landscaping by Wendy:
I have been practicing at Spira Power Yoga at least once a week for about three years. I started my landscaping company and I spent several years “in the field” getting a free workout while transforming my client’s yards. These days, I am more desk jockey than garden nymph, but I get to choose how I stay in shape. Power yoga, for me, is the perfect blend between a serious workout and a serious break. My often overwhelmed mind is given the chance to focus on the as-challenging-as-you-need-them-to-be physical moves as well as the mental release of being present in the moment on my mat. I am, some might say, addicted. Practicing at Spira allows me to do all kinds of crazy things, like run a business. And play field hockey. And take tap dance classes. Check out my business at www.akinadesigns.com. See you at the studio!
Chiropractic by Dr. Pamela Zoller:
I have been practicing at Spira for two years. When I started at the school, I was underweight and seeking to build muscle and strength. The practice at Spira helped me achieve those goals and I feel stronger with each passing month. I have always enjoyed the meditative benefits of a yoga practice and the powerful work at Spira requires me to be present in my body, in this moment, and there is nothing more meditative than being wholly in this moment. I recommend Spira to many of my clients. My business is “Dr Pamela Zoller, Healing Through Awareness”. I practice a body of work that utilizes light touch and breath to help the body release old stresses and create internal strategies to deal with new stresses with ease. With these strategies we can live an energy-rich life, clear and focused. I have been practicing this work for 17 years and have loved assisting thousands of people live, create, and thrive. I can’t imagine doing any other type of work. www.drpamelazoller.com