By J.T. Service, Run Local Founder and CEO of Soul Focus Sports
For me this obsession with “local” started about six years ago when I randomly picked up a copy of Barbara Kingsolver’s book, “Animal, Vegetable, Miracle.” I freaking love Kingsolver but basically because of The Lacuna. If you haven’t read The Lacuna then you can quit reading this, get a copy and come back to this drivel upon completion. Anywho, this new Kingsolver was simply about surviving one year of life in New England by only sourcing food from her neighborhood. She set a rule to only grow, trade or buy locally. With the apprehension of reading some hippy dippy almanac… I trudged on. And long story short it changed my life. Like changed me. I still love Amazon.com and free two-day delivery, but only for hard to find items. Otherwise I’ve become obsessed with local. The efficiency, the ability to see what you’re buying before you get it, and the fact that I don’t need a truck to drop it off. It just made more sense to me. Buying local, supporting local businesses, and making sure we ran our business with a similar ethos.
I have a pattern in my life. I read, watch, and consume all types of trends. Sporting, pop-culture, music, art, whatever. Crazy consumption, little sleep. Then I apply those trends to my life, and especially my business at Soul Focus Sports, and voila…we have ourselves a neat little operation. The best way to describe it would be like trend bending. Making it fit. The trend that has stuck around the longest and continues to drive me is a theme of local. For some reason that book and the lessons that I’ve learned have repeatedly driven me back to supporting the communities that we work and live within. I love the idea of finding something slightly different in a local store, something new and delicious in a deli or a weird fruit at a farmer’s market. The search for nothing can uncover the treasure of everything. Tastes and sounds and personalities all seem to bubble up when the franchise handbook is thrown out the window.
At its core, it must be the people. The creativity of the farmer that created some crazy tomato. The trip to West Africa taken by the artisan in Kauai has created the craziest Christmas ornaments. Oh, and now he is donating a portion of the profits back to the women that taught him the craft? What the what? Bitch, take ALL of my money.
So here we are in the times of Covid19 and Amazon saved our ass when Main Street was forced to close. Supply chains are a beautiful thing and that is why life is gray. Everything is more nuanced than “ordering online is bad” and “only local is good.” It’s a frustrating truth, but real life is grayer. We need both.
But now the economy is opening back up. Hooray! Let’s get out and spend some money. However, I’d like to see one little thing change upon return. I want to see the people run local. Get out there and peruse, find local charities, choose local business. The bakeries, the farmer’s markets, and mom & pops that were barely holding on before… I want to see them rise up. I want to see them come back, go beyond survival and into revival. I want us to realize that we’re quickly being funneled onto a conveyor belt of convenience. Just robots door dashing and sashaying our way into a middle-ground of economic vanilla. You love freedom? Well, real freedom is having the choice to choose something interesting, something that spills beyond the cookie cutter. But to keep it, you have to support it.
And it doesn’t have to be about spending money. Let’s keep going for walks in our neighborhood. No need to get in the car all the time and drive to god knows where. Local is right here. We don’t always have to charge it up or plug it in. Keep talking to our neighbors, keeping an eye on the kids taking over the streets and simplifying life.
This is a test. But it is not only a test. This is our chance to save our local. Direct cash infusions to the communities that keep money closer. A shout out to the credit unions that loan it right back out to the boutiques with a great eye. To the little hamburger joint smashing patties with a fist of love. It’s events owned here. It’s skipping Chipotle and choosing the taqueria. It’s riding your bike downtown, putting a dollar in the buskers case and enjoying an ice cream from someone that made it.
I understand that I’m tone-deaf, but I also hear you. Times are tough and we have to make decisions based on what we can afford. Local is often more expensive. As a starting point I propose that we start thinking local ONE day per week. I’m thinking Run Local Wednesday. The meatless crowd already stole Monday’s, Tacos got Tuesday, the kids told me Thursday is the new Friday, and I don’t want to compete with my Aloha Friday Ohana. Plus, Portnoy said Saturdays are for the boys and I’m not going head to head with the NFL or God.
So I invite you to celebrate Run Local Wednesday.
Let’s go today. Let’s go right down the street and change the world. One day and one choice at a time.