By Frank Schier
Editor & Publisher
The “kick-off” meeting of the new Super Bowl of area economics—the “Buy Local” movement scored countless points with everyone there. We rawked at Rawkspace.
More than 60 people attended the first meeting of www.WinnebagoBuyLocal.com from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Jan. 20, at the unique business, Rawkspace, 300 E. State St. third floor—the combination of raw and workspace.
Local businesses in the game against big corporations that haul money out of town by the stadium full, know it’s a bear market out there, and many businesses showed up to learn about being packers of a new concept. It’s really an old concept (just like bad sports analogies and bad puns), but small businesses are coming back into play to help sustain and rebuild our local economy.
One of the main tenets of this Buy Local group is “FUN.” Business is stressful enough with too many meetings.
As one of the organizers of the meeting, Skyler Davis, co-owner of Culture Shock Clothing Accessories and Gifts, said: “I know how busy everyone who owns a business is, but it was nice to see them take some time away to get to know some new businesses, and to help us start a true Buy Local movement. This is a chance to see how many other local businesses are out there that you didn’t know about.”
Having only informally recruited members for a short time to reach 14 members, last week’s meeting brought 11 new members to the association.
The excellent volunteer coordinator for the event, Lauren Vanags-Davis, the other co-owner of Culture Shock Clothing Accessories and Gifts, said, “I was happy to see so many unique local businesses show up, and I am happy to see how inspired all our businesses were to improve our local economy.”
Speaking of inspiration, Kristan McNames, owner of Grace Funeral Home & Cremation Services was kind enough to donate her time on WNTA to promote the event.
Lauren also wanted to thank “the MANY members, and people who attended the meeting who brought food.” She and Skyler also brought great snack items, many homemade.
For their fine food donations, special thanks go to Whiskey’s Roadhouse, JT’s Bourbon Street, Forest City Pub at The Radisson, and Deli Italia.
Tony and Anthony Artale, owners of Artale Wine, donated excellent wine for the event. My favorite was the Bourdeaux.
Crystal Douglas, owner of Wired Café, donated coffee for the event.
More special thanks to super-friendly volunteers from the Culture Shock fan club: Erin Burkart, Linda Vanags and Jane Femminella.
Jody Marshall, Morgan Smith and Kristina Leftwich from The Rock River Times did a great job, too.
Britney Lindgren and Jarrod Hennis donated the use of RAWKSPACE and co-hosted the event.
“This meeting shows local support is really out there, and not that hard to find,’” Lindgren said. “We are all willing to embrace each other if we are all willing to support each other. It was just a group of genuinely hard-working people. It was just great to work with each other, in general, and for this event. It was an extremely relaxed atmosphere, very comfortable, where you could mix and mingle without feeling awkward about it. The night was just really positive.”
I really had a nice time, and I learned quite a bit. I was very happy to meet a man who makes his own local guitars, Jim Worland, Luthier, of Worland Guitars.
I had seen their work on Facebook, and it was cool to meet Tammy and Phillis, owners of 3Gs Clutter Cleaners. They’ve got some stories.
Jarrod Hennis of Rawkspace, an open workplace with computers, copier, coffees, and conference spaces, also owns Pirate Ninja Print Shop, located in the same building. He’s a very ambitous and creative man.
Then, there was Doug Campbell, owner of Hear More Music LLC, who installs home and office music systems. Just bought a really big screen TV, and want that home theater effect? Doug’s your man.
Debbie Aiello says she is the “Goddess of All Things Accessories” at Roxy Carmichael. Yes, you don’t even have to pray, and she provides great shoes, purses, jewelry, home decor and more.
Chip Copeland is the art director at Fusion Multimedia. From the creation to the marketing, he has many options available.
Kathy Copeland has Irocustomcosmetics; that’s lipstick, lipgloss, foundations, mineral powders, brushes, accessories and even vegan cosmetics. I’m interested in the anti-aging serums.
Natalie Muhall and Joelene Chinn from Rebel Art Productions, a traveling handmade boutique, were crazy fun. From marketing to special events, these ladies are high-energy creativity.
Come to our next Winnebago Buy Local meeting Thursday, Feb. 24, at Giovanni’s/Big Al’s at 5:30 p.m., and meet these wonder folks for yourselves—local business owners, join us!
Readers, don’t think you can Buy Local all the time? One family did. Go to www.inc.com/news/articles/2011/01/family-pledges-to-buy-only-from-small-businesses-for-year.html.
And don’t forget to keep checking out WinnebagoBuyLocal.com to find another local business to support. It’s good for our community, we can all Buy Local!