By Devin Kennedy
Living through a global pandemic has taught myself other people the importance of community. As we’ve seen from this past year and a half, without receiving their typical amount of support from locals and students, small businesses have suffered. Now, more than ever, it is our responsibility to shop at the local stores in our neighborhoods and encourage others to do the same.
New Paltz is filled with locally owned shops; take a walk into town and you’ll see it firsthand. I was lucky enough to chat with two local businesses about what shopping locally means to them. Amy Cohen from Groovy Blueberry actively engages with the people of New Paltz. Not only does the store have a sculpture garden out front but it hosts live music and events outside.
Cohen, who has been running the store for 24 years after moving to New Paltz with her husband, believes “shopping locally is a good way to support your neighbors, but it is also a good way to see what you are getting.” Immediately upon arriving at the store, customers can interact with the goods and see a vast selection of clothing, jewelry, and other items Groovy Blueberry has to offer.
“I think having a local business where you can come in and try garments on and see the selection and put a look together is really the way to shop,” says Cohen. She is very involved with the town, having raised three kids here and serving on the Village of New Paltz planning board. Supporting Groovy Blueberry, located at 1 Water Street, directly helps a community member who loves to engage with residents. The beautiful items that they sell in the store and the welcoming environment are absolutely worth it.
I sat down with another wonderful business in town, The Ridge Tea & Spice Shop, located at 9 N Chestnut Street. Here, Corinn and Chris opened up about the values of the shop and their love for working with local businesses and residents. Their guests are instantly comforted by an inviting atmosphere as they see the amazing displays and decor throughout the shop.
Corinn revealed that they “really like to work with as many local people as they can,” including Deek Creek Collective and Krause's Chocolates, whose items are used in the many goods at The Ridge. They’ve also been holding more events to interact with residents including their collaboration with Taconautas for a vegan Mexican food pop-up that will arrive September 25th. This event is part of their Hispanic Heritage Month celebrations, which Chris asks for community members to partake in. He would love to work with anyone of Hispanic heritage who wants to celebrate the month in a creative manner. Other than their events, Chris also hosts a running club which is open to anyone who wants to show up. As reflected by the quality of their goods, they put a lot of care into their products by using fresh, local ingredients and eco-friendly materials. You can easily visit them at their shop during the week, or at the New Paltz Open Air Market on Sunday afternoons. They’d love to chat with you while providing excellent service.
After speaking to multiple business owners in the community, my thoughts regarding the support of local businesses have only strengthened. Buying within your own town helps to ensure that money goes directly to local business owners rather than big corporations. You help shops like these continue to contribute to the town and provide great service. As the daughter of small business owners myself, I know how encouraging it is when someone appreciates the hard work you put in. Neighbors working with neighbors allows closer circulation of money and more local jobs.
You may be wondering: how can I start? Well, it’s easier than most people may think. Consider going to a local farm or market for produce rather than a big corporation. Buy products that are locally grown and distributed. Not only will it aid these businesses but the products will be fresh. When deciding where to go for lunch, choose a new restaurant in town instead of chain restaurants. New Paltz has something for everyone, just take a look at what’s around! You can play a part in preserving the community and helping those around you to succeed. It is great to see these businesses expand and get the exposure that they deserve. Shopping locally has so many benefits; it is worth giving it a try!