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Monday, Nov. 2, 2009 01:59 pm
You always have a choice where you spend your money. If you aren't already a believer in the cause of LOCAL FIRST, I urge you to consider what this town is going to look like in 10 years. Will there be anything on Veteran's Parkway that isn't regional / national?  Will there be anything (other than a road sign) that says we're in Springfield vs any city USA?
I’ve been in the weekly newspaper business for more than 30 years. In the course of my everyday work life I talk with dozens of local business owners each week. 2009 has been among the most challenging years ever - especially for local, independent businesses. It costs more to hire people, more to keep the lights on, more to advertise, more to provide health insurance, more to do just about everything … and yet if you have that entrepreneurial spirit there is little that is more satisfying than owning and operating your own business. We know all about that here at Illinois Times - this paper is one of a very small handful of locally owned media firms in central Illinois. It is only with the support of other independent businesses that our newspaper can remain free and available to the community - just as it has been for 35 years. But more than for our own survival, we want to see the community remain vibrant, interesting and local. Over the years I’ve watched as hundreds of small businesses close their doors – mostly forced out of business because they couldn't compete with the mega stores that have been creeping into our market for the last twenty years. Most of these locals had a solid business plan … many operated a thriving enterprise for many, many years. But as Springfield got big enough to attract the 'mega' stores consumers got short sighted about what they find valuable. Is it more valuable to have 90 different types of bathroom light fixtures from which to choose or more valuable to keep 19 local people employed at the local hardware store? Is it really important to be able to buy a 48 pack of AA batteries, a case of tomato sauce or envelopes by the gross? Will the mega store owner support the local bank? Will they invest in the symphony or sponsor your son's little league team? What is going to happen to Main Street if all we end up with are national and regional mega stores ... and all the locals are gone? The independent business alliance we've launched here in the capital city is similar to the hundreds of others that have formed around the country. Our mission is simple: we want to teach consumers that their dollar has 3x more spending power when it is spent with local, independent businesses. Consider this: a local restaurant owner typically buys his food from a local vendor. When he wants to add a fence he hires a local fence company or local architect. He puts his money in a local bank, which makes mortgage loans to the newlyweds down the street, who in turn buy their plant and flowers at a local nursery. The nursery owner hires local folks who shop at the local hardware store, eat at local restaurants, buy tickets to the local theater company, send donations to the food pantry, drop money in the collection plate on Sunday. Forty five cents of the dollar spent with local independent businesses will stay right here at home, re-circulating from one hand to the other, keeping our neighbors employed, our tax money working to repair our streets, pay our cops etc. Spend that same dollar with the mega retailer up the street ... it is pretty much gone by morning, when the receipts from yesterday are wire transferred to Arkansas or LA. Other than some fairly low wage jobs (although still important) only 13 cents of your dollar spent with that national / regional chain has any impact in our city at all.   We're not anti anyone
Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2009 08:56 pm
While I have to admit I've only visited a few times, it is a sad thing to see that Dane's Discount (the local incarnation of a 'Big Lots' on steroids store on Stevenson Drive) is closing its doors. Several years (and thousands of concrete benches and lions) into it's tenure in Springfield's retail scene, Dane's was one of those places you could buy huge quantities of toothpaste at bargain prices, any size screwdriver (or a set of 30), a cabinet for your shotguns or the bargain floor tile for that do-it-yourself project in the basement. Every aisle in the store is packed from top to bottom with an unusual collection of stuff that undoubtedly was purchased as salvage (that is in large quantity at low prices.)   The national retailer Big Lots has many dedicated followers and Dane's certainly did a good job of competing with them in a much broader array of categories.  (It was especially fun to wander among the cement yard ornaments
Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2009 08:47 pm
Celebrate the future of biking in Springfield at the re-opening of the Interurban bike trail this Sunday, October 25, 1:00 PM at MacArthur Tunnel.   For those of us involved with the MacArthur Boulevard Business Association there is little better news we could hope for than a completion of this project - and the successful reopening of this bike trail, one of the only progressive things happeni...
Wednesday, Oct. 14, 2009 08:45 pm
My  friend Karen Conn is hosting the Local Flavors luncheon at the Inn at 835 (835 South Second Street) next Tuesday the 20th ... If you don't know about this culinary event - it was organized by the Illinois Stewardship Alliance, a non profit group that bring lower growers together with restaurant and catering firms to encourage all of us in the food chain to buy fresh, buy local! &nbsp...
Wednesday, Oct. 14, 2009 02:46 pm
It’s the Irish in me – but wheat or rye, multigrain or oat, bread would be my food of choice if I had to choose just one thing to sustain me for life. For that reason (as well as the fact that I like seeing small businesses come to town) here’s a hearty welcome to Chris Tarpley and Great Harvest Bread, a ‘freedom franchise’ opening soon at Montvale Plaza on Iles...
Monday, Oct. 12, 2009 02:40 pm
In recent months the strip center at Montvale Plaza (across from west side Schnuck’s) has had so many businesses coming and going  it was hard to keep track.  Last month Sunny China House opened in the space next door to Little Caesar’s (which was either the space that used to be the Spaghetti Shop (that moved across Iles to the space that had been occupied by Monical&rs...
Monday, Oct. 5, 2009 09:26 am

Wednesday, watch as Man vs. Food’s Adam Richman eschews “chili” for chilLi the Springfield way.

In the Springfield-based episode, taped in July, Richman visits Springfield favorites D’Arcy’s Pint and Cozy Dog Drive-In, sampling local delicacies such as the horseshoe and hot dog on a stick. The titular premise, however, comes into play when he visits Jo...
Wednesday, Sept. 30, 2009 03:13 pm
If you haven’t had a chance to wander around Springfield’s Flea Market to Fabulous (at Spring and Lawrence) you owe it to yourself to make the trip.   Yep, this is the place that had more than a little storm damage to the older of their two buildings a couple of weeks ago. (Its the old brick one with the chairs hanging off the windows that is now surrounded by some yellow tape - waiting for the engineer's verdict about repairs.)  Luckily they have two buildings - and the one one is just fine!
100% of the store's eclectic inventory has been moved into the newer of their buildings and they are open for business as usual.  (Jodi advises that it might be easier to enter from Lawrence Avenue...)  FMTF is a classic example of an independent business where creativity reigns and entreprenurism is the order of the day.    This store is never exactly the same anytime you visit it -- but you're sure to find a dazzling selection of classic antiques including furniture, mirrors, light fixtures and such.  These crafty ladies also take old or discarded furnishings and refurbish, repurpose and make them new again.    The store always has a terrific selection of jewelry, bejeweled serving pieces, martini glasses, along with a cool collection of new handmade items, baskets and a bunch of other stuff you're just going to have to explore for yourself.    I will admit that I love to dig around in places like this but I would practically promise that you won't be disappointed if you take the time to wander in and look around.  Ah, but I nearly forgot the most important thing: Owner Jodi Cole and her associates Deb Goetz, Nancy Viola, Cheri Manson and Ann Jennings are celebrating breast cancer awareness month in October by putting their talents to work. They’ve painted, created or repurposed 10 fabulous pieces of home furniture and decor
Wednesday, Sept. 30, 2009 04:30 pm
There are many events planned to celebrate breast cancer awareness month. Please send me your announcements to capcitybizbuzz@illinoistimes.com and I’ll feature each of them.
Here’s the first and it’s a fun one: Kim Dixon at The Wardrobe (830 South Grand Avenue West) has invited a group of local folks to add some bling and zing to otherwise ordinary bras … ...


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