I like the idea of buying fresh veggies and such at the farmers market and I think our city has done a decent job of starting a weekly farmers market. I buy local honey for my allergies. Bees gather local pollen which I happen to be allergic to and so the little bit of honey I put in my coffee gives me small doses of immunity (so I've been told). Believe it or not, it's harder than you think to find honey made around my city in the local stores. You have to shop at 3-4 groceries stores before you get everything you need because one store doesn't have everything. It can be a bit frustrating.
I try to shop for clothes locally but that proves very very difficult. Locally owned clothing stores here cater to young teenagers or older (than me) women. There might be one possible store but its way too expensive for me. Generally, that's the case, it's too expensive. These small Mom and Pop stores don't have the buying power of the large box stores so they have to be more expensive to survive. So, some advice might be to shop at a local store you like and spend the extra amount that you would have paid in shipping or gas to drive out of town. Recently we had our Gap close at our local mall (last month). It seems like most people I know, shop in Dallas so it makes sense that stores would close or aren't supported. However, our Gap didn't have near the selection as other Gaps, so why would we shop there? It's a catch 22 sometimes.
Restaurants are another strange occurrence in our city. Our city loves chain restaurants, Mexican food and drive-thrus. When I visit other states or cities, I love to eat local. The best places to eat sometimes are "dives". We don't have but a few local places, most of them go out of business within a year. There have been great chefs that retired or moved here and they try to make it work but it fails. Maybe because small cities just don't know a good thing when they have it, they covet what everyone else has- Chili's. I have to admit I am just as guilty because I can't pass up a Starbucks and I am very happy that we have 3!
And decorative items or furnishings, forget it. I have to go to a big city or order online. I've tried, get frustrated and go out of town.
I say try to support local businesses. Not everything is better in a big city. You don't know if they are a world class chef that used to cook for the Pope (true story) serving you. I know there is hidden talent in our small city so look around before you go out of town. In such tough times, you don't want businesses leaving your city because they can't grow or sustain. It becomes a domino effect and soon the city has stopped growing.
I would really love to hear any opinions or advice, so comment please! Brandy