RENO — Today is Small Business Saturday, a national campaign encouraging consumers to shop at locally owned businesses. It comes in response to Black Friday, a profitable day for corporate retailers and chain outlets, often at the expense of local, independent stores.
You might have seen television advertisements promoting Small Business Saturday. But American Express – that is, corporate America – strangely, and cynically, sponsors those spots.
So in order to really focus on local businesses, I turned to Dave Asher, founder of the Reno-Sparks Local Business Co-op and an advocate for ‘buy local’ campaigns.
Asher wants consumers in the Truckee Meadows to adjust their spending habits to the local market as a way to help improve the northern Nevada economy.
If residents shift just 10 percent of their spending from chain stores or out-of-state markets to local businesses, Asher said, the region could retain upward of $350 million in revenue. That money, he said, circulates through the economy and supports schools, infrastructure projects, police departments and parks, among other things, all without any tax increases.
Asher and I visited two of his favorite Reno haunts on Friday to learn more about how local businesses operate and why it’s important to support them – not just today, but every day of the year.
The Hub Coffee Co.
32 Cheney St.
Chris Bonde and Anna Sofie greeted us with espresso shots and free-pour cappuccinos when we entered this coffee house that is built into a repurposed residential garage in midtown Reno. You can think of these two baristas as artists in the crafting of good coffee, much like a brewmaster or winemaker.
“They know what they’re doing,” Asher said, adding that locally owned businesses often provide customers with a level of expertise not evident when shopping at big box stores. Moreover, local businesses are anything but generic, which means you often get an unparalleled experience and quality when shopping with independent coffee houses, bookstores or restaurants. It also doesn’t hurt that people like Bonde and Sofie truly love what they do. Can the same be said for those working at Starbuck’s after school?
Bondie and Sofie get creative with their work, trying out new ingredients and styles to deliver top quality coffee.
Importantly, The Hub supports other local businesses. So while they aren’t shy about getting their coffee beans from places as far flung as Brazil and Ethiopia, Bonde and Sofie point out that their pastries are purchased at the 5th Street Bakehouse in Reno.
The baristas also like to keep things in-house. For example, they make a chocolate syrup onsite that is dark, rich and flavorful.
One of the best things about locally owned coffee houses is the unique atmosphere you find at each, Asher said.
Inside The Hub you will see a bookshelf, vinyl record player and young professionals opening their laptop and connecting to the free Wi-fi available. And outside is a patio area perfect for relaxing on a mild, sunny November day.
The Hub offers gift cards in any amount for the coffee lover in your family.
121 California Ave.
Now in its 26th year, Sundance Books and Music recently moved into an old colonial-style home in downtown Reno.
Co-founder Dan Earl said there are many challenges local bookstores have to navigate in order to survive, particularly given the ascendance of big box retailers like Barnes & Noble and online carriers such as Amazon.com.
So how does Earl do it? By providing eclectic titles and a Nevada book room replete with local author selections, which are harder to come by at corporate outlets. In addition, Sundance hosts book signings with both nationally recognized authors and local writers.
“We’ve always thought it was important to shop locally,” Earl said, adding that doing so keeps more money circulating through the community, money that supports job growth and government services.
Of course, part of the draw for Sundance is its unique atmosphere. When you step inside the 105-year-old home that serves as the bookstore’s residence, you feel like you’ve entered an artistic haven. In addition to books, Sundance sells classic music albums, handcrafted soaps and greeting cards from local artists and even incense. The temptation to sit on the couch in the Nevada book room, open a novel, newspaper or magazine, and spend a few hours relaxing is hard to ignore.
“One of the reasons you choose local is because of the non-cookie-cutter personality you get,” Asher said.
To learn more about the Reno-Sparks Local Business Co-op and how you can support local businesses, visit www.livelocalrenosparks.com.