Shopping for Change


Photo by Edie Weinstein

Edie shopping at her local grocery store Widmer’s Supermarket.

Edie Weinstein, Freelance Editor

Pro Pharmacy, Scuzi, Regina’s Fine Candies, the Randolph Griddle, Gypsy Moon, Shamrocks, Widmer’s, Highland Grill, Heirloom, St. Paul Corner Drug, Sift Gluten Free Bakery, and Moeller Jewelers. These are all stores, businesses, restaurants, that are family or locally owned in the Twin Cities, and a few of them have shut down recently. Do you know which ones?

We live in an age of products over people, ease over empathy, and rapid delivery over real quality. When we’re out of milk, do we drive the extra ten blocks or leave an hour earlier to shop at the locally owned store that closes at seven, or do we run to Super America and grab a gallon at ten o’clock? How often do we find our latest kicks or our new phone case with a quick google search that eventually leads us to Amazon? And what good is Amazon doing for you and your neighbor? According to Jeff Bezos, more than 100 million people hold Amazon Prime subscriptions, and my family can be counted in that staggering number.

I know how much easier it can be to click on the new Converse and have them arrive a few days later at my door rather than make a trip to Schuler Shoes, and I understand the urge for a Jimmy John’s sandwich, even though sources say the CEO of Jimmy John’s has killed exotic animals for sport. However, I challenge myself to remember one thing: the souls of a community live in family-owned businesses. Amazon does not feed the mouths of the children who walk past me on their way to school. Amazon does not say hello to me or greet me by name when I walk in a store. Amazon does not employ a teenage girl paying her way through college living down the street from me. Local businesses do all these things and more; they build community and support real people- the same people who work hard to earn their wage. These benefits are invaluable, and to me, they are always worth paying a bit more money or traveling a little farther for a meal.

And back to the two stores that closed- who closed them? Although I have cited reasons that Amazon, chains, and big box corporate stores are the enemies of locally owned businesses, did McDonalds stop going to dinner at Heirloom, or did Amazon refuse to patronize Scuzi? Absolutely not. Using advertising and incentives to ensure our loyalty, Amazon may have played a part in these stores’ closures. However, we are the ones who hold the delicate survival of these family and locally owned stores in our hands, and our money is our voice in this matter.

If you believe in the importance of locally-owned organizations in our community, then start speaking up! Travel the extra ten blocks, shop an hour earlier, research what stores are masquerading as ‘locally owned’ and what stores really do have their roots firmly locked in our neck of the woods, and help real humans near you. Your knowledge and decision to support these businesses can stop cheap corporate greed in its tracks. Resist!