I like stories. I have forever, but it probably took me 42 years to realize. My local spirit shop has 2 incredible wine tastings a year. Every time I go I gravitate to this one distributor. He is brilliant. He knows his wines and can tell you about the vintner, the land and how the vintage got to market. After a couple of years he said to me, “You enjoy terrier. You enjoy the story.” I was shocked. In a nutshell he had somehow summed up my life.
Over the Thanksgiving dinner table talk turned toward the economy. One aunt remarked on how people seem to be talking about shopping local a lot more. The consensus was that a thriving economy had trained us away the joy and adventure of shopping in our hometowns. Driving home I asked my parent’s where they shop local. Each had to take a moment and think, is there anywhere to shop local anymore? After a bit my father answered “Haberman Hardware, in Holyoke, they have everything. Pleasant Street Market. Pajer’s. Westfield Auto Parts. Other than that there is no where else to go.” After an even longer pause my mother added “Balboni Bakery in Feeding Hills. Rays farm stand in Southwick. Pilgrim Candle for unique ideas and their commitment to community. A jeweler. A seamstress. For clothes I would not know where to look unless you made the 45 minute trip to Northampton. For the uniqueness, quality and actual service it is a worthwhile commute.”
I like a story and that is why I like to shop local. On a hot, humid day in summer I will bike up a very big hill to get some Nestrovich peaches. Part of the joy is to get a smile and a little tale out of the Mr's Nestrovich. One legend is that the grandfather stopped in England on his way over from Russia, he was delayed a bit longer than planned because he literally missed the boat. Would he have enjoyed the company of the unsinkable Molly Brown had he managed to get on the Titanic? Now that the days grow dark so early, I have to drive down to Sweet Pea Cheese. Light or dark, entering their drive is always an adventure, look out for the free range chickens, especially if you are looking to pick up eggs for breakfast, and be prepare for the charming four legged greeting which includes the obligatory frisbee toss.
Another spot I frequent, not just because I am unconditionally biased, is at 382 Southampton Road in Westfield. It is the stories. From where a recipe came from, to the day Ashley Beluzo and Kati Lewantowicz stopped what they were doing to go and hunt the squirrels who let themselves in the front door, to the friends who stop by or keep in touch by e-mail just to let us know about the roasted squash they made with our Veggie Rub or ask if we would consider putting just a little more maple sugar in our polenta. The rich tapestry of tales that have brought us to where we are today are a constant cause for inspiration. It is a place where the perfect gift is not an investment. Our warm little spot is a reason to smile, relax, enjoy and share..... That is why I like to shop local!
Oh, and here is another very good reason - According to the Center for a New American Dream, each time you buy one pound of locally produced food, you help keep 13 pounds of carbon emissions out of the environment.