If you’re a homeowner, you likely know full well that a house doesn’t -- on its own -- make a home. It’s the things such as a welcoming front door that ushers in family and friends, the secluded porch enclosure that serves as your own personal hideaway, or even the oak tree in the front yard with children’s initials etched in that make your space truly yours. The same is true when it comes to your local community, regardless of where you live in Rhode Island. The cities and towns that make up the biggest little state would not be what they are without residents willing to commit themselves to both “place” and “people.” This is exactly why living the local life is so vital - it’s what you do where you live that makes the biggest contribution toward a thriving community.
What follows below are 3 practical ways you can live the local life, be it in Lil Rhody or elsewhere:
1. Go All In
Phrases like “buy local” or “shop small” are seen everywhere during the holiday season, from the indoor farmer's market to the independent bookstore down the street. But what about the rest of the year? While some local businesses depend on a strong sales performance during the holidays, others rely more heavily on customer loyalty in every season of the year. To live local, you really have to jump feet-first into your community and start the long and rewarding process of building relationships with neighborhood shops and manufacturers who may be right around the corner. Homeowners have a unique opportunity to do this, because of the many needs that arise over time. Windows need to be replaced, appliances break, or you may even just need a spare part for your next DIY project -- and all of these needs can be met without heading to a big box store or home improvement chain. Once you get out there and explore your options, you’ll find that many of the business owners in your town are just as top-notch (or better than) as the products they make and/or sell.
2. Think Outside the Box
To truly live the local life, you have to be thoughtful, if not even a little creative. That’s right -- think about where you'll go for what you want or need. With Providence as our Creative Capital, we have a number of resources at our disposal to connect with local businesses, vendors, and service providers. It's even quite simple to find even the top restaurants and bars that are making a positive impact in our state. It can often be easy to miss what's right in front of you, but joining in alongside local businesses is well worth the extra time it may take to do a little research and find them. Take some time to think about the right people, goods, and services who may not have the biggest shop, but certainly have the high quality you’re searching for. Why? According to Buy Local RI, shifting even 10% of our buying habits from chains to locally owned business would add an estimated $373 million to the Rhode Island economy! Imagine what would happen if all residents were willing to go all in.
3. Practice Makes Progress
Like anything else that's worthwhile, committing to your community and being local in every aspect of life takes a great deal of hard work and even practice. Local business can often get neglected, but they are a huge part of what makes Rhode Island such a special place to live and work. The Rhode Island Foundation emphasizes this effectively: “Transformation requires commitment, resources, and collaboration over time. We believe that the community is stronger when everyone participates.” Businesses in RI want this just as much as so many residents, but sustained partnership is needed. Getting into the practice of supporting local businesses is an essential step toward making Rhode Island a better place.
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