As I wrote about during the holidays, one very effective and proactive way that people can make a difference is to “occupy local businesses.”
Since Valentine’s Day is the day of love, why not spread the love by doing the same and supporting only local community businesses? This includes shopping from local stores and eating and drinking at local, independent restaurants, cafes, coffee houses, and bars.
Spending at local businesses, rather than at chain stores or online, keeps money in the community. This helps local economies because these businesses are more likely to buy from local suppliers, hire these local service providers, and of course hire employees.
Buying locally doesn’t just mean buying at retail stores; it also means the local restaurant, coffee house, hair salon, and even local services such as plumbers, accountants, and electricians. All of these services are things the people need and want and make great gifts. Many sell gift cards or will make you one if you just ask them.
If none of these ideas suit your Valentine, there are several great web sites that list independents by business type including this one: Independent Coffee, Music, Movies, and Organic Food. Try searching for the kinds of places that your loved one likes.
Aside from a romantic meal together, perhaps the most popular gift on Valentine’s Day is a bouquet of roses. As I have written before, there are more and more places to find organic, earth-friendly flowers. You can find organic flower growers by visiting Local Harvest.
If you live near a year-round farmers’ market like I do, you can make your own gift basket featuring locally produced chocolate treats, baked goodies, and locally grown flowers. You can find your local farmers’ market via several web sites including the USDA site, or at Local Harvest.
Another way to show the local community some love is to help those who are truly in need. When I am feeling sorry for myself on Valentine’s Day or feeling unloved, I have found that giving back to my community in small, meaningful, ways can make me feel better too.