I’ve long made it a mission to support small businesses in my community and the February edition of that is the first time I’ve made a conscious effort to document that. Let’s see how I did:

My kids both needed running shoes – one for winter running club (and he wants to run track?) The other one needs it for general fitness for her sport. So I hopped over to Playmakers, a local running store and spent over an hour with each child (not on the same day! I’m not crazy like that!) and a footwear specialist. They recorded them as they ran on a treadmill, analyzed their ankles and gait, provided the right fit shoe and $349 later they have footwear. Yes, it’s expensive. Yes, could have saved $80 by going to Dick’s Sporting Goods where the staffer would have gotten shoes from the back. That’s it.

In February, I also replaced some white lycra swimwear fabric for a project I started a year ago, mortally wrecked, and put aside. I got this from Fashion Fabrics Club online, a small business I have ordered from for years, for $35 all up (including shipping; swimsuits don’t take a lot of fabric.)

I also purchased a tote bag and embroidery project early in the month from Woven Art Yarn Shop in East Lansing (I had the embroidery thread from years ago and pulled it out to work on new projects.) The WovenArt staff also helped / is helping me with a knitting swatch problem and I took a crochet class from Meg, the owner, in January, as I really want to learn that craft too.

I purchased blush linen/cotton fabric from Seams Fabric (next door to Woven Art) and some notions in January as well. These two shops are located next to one another and are even connected. Yes! I know! So amazing. A knitting and sewing store connected. It’s all that and more.

In February, I also supported an online (but not local) small businesses for my own business – a company in Seattle for supplies for my small business, my accounting firm (in Okemos) who did my taxes, and another company in North Carolina for some business services that I use regularly. This, in total is over $3,500 from my business to theirs in the month, and every month.

Also in February, I hit up an event at the local mall featuring indie and sustainable fashion, and bought a number of items from local vendors there.

I purchased a new wig from a (medium sized) business online, Wigs.com, influenced by a wig wearer I follow on Instagram. You all know I have alopecia areata/totalis (but if you didn’t, now you do!) That’s why I always have good hair days 😉

I did not buy anything from Amazon. I am a shareholder of AMZN.

Hedlund Plumbing (Service Professor, Grand Rapids) did plumbing repairs for my rental. A bunch of them, unfortunately, but necessary. So far as I can tell, not (yet) private equity.

Research WHO you’re buying for. A large company or a private-equity companies are in the business of scooping up smaller companies, and eventually charging you more, paying their people (who work in your community) LESS. Yes, it’s damn hard being in business for yourself, but we have to consider what’s going to be left – will there be choices?

A client, a HVAC company All Star Mechanical, pointed out in their industry (like dental offices, assisted living communities, veterinarians, plumbers and electricians) are all being bought out by private equity firms. When you get a new furnace, you contact someone to give you a quote… and you go get another quote from a company BRANDED differently – but owned by the same private equity firm that owns 100 others in 10 states. That’s not competition and in the long run, once they own them all, they can start charging more. Way more.

Consider who you do business with – are they truly local? If you pay more, to a local business, 100% of your money stays local. It’s not paying a private equity CEO ten states over his next million. Consider it an investment in your community’s future.

A record of my local/indie purchases:

In March, I went to Seams Fabric again. I mean, it’s at least monthly. Styled by Blake clothing boutique in Oscoda, MI, near my parents house. I picked up a really pretty white knit top with lace insets, a “Lake Weekends” cropped tee and a pair of high waisted sweater pants. I also bought a book at a book signing by a local author!

April, I snuck away to Charleston, SC where I went to a bunch of great places – seafood, coffee, brewhouses, small restaurants locally recommended. It was a whirlwind weekend but a ton of fun. I had to snap my wallet shut a bit after that (for two weeks.)

In May, I will shop again at Seams Fabric (see my vlog about “mortal eff-ups in sewing” for the reason why!) and also a consignment shop, Carousel as I fill out some needed summer wardrobe items. I also stopped at indie bookstore Serendipity Books in Chelsea, MI and Chelsea Consignments in Chelsea while on a hockey weekend with my daughter.