Shop Slow, Shop Small, Shop Local
While it is true that I love the convenience and variety provided by online shopping, and that we now have an Etsy Shop— O Deer Mercantile— I remain committed to shopping our local small businesses. This is nothing new for me. I have lived in small towns ranging from West Texas to Wisconsin to North Carolina, and for me nothing can replace the personal interactions involved in buying from local shops and vendors. I adore an old-fashioned downtown, an out-of-the-way antique store (or junque shop ;-), farmer’s markets and flea markets, pick your own farms and roadside nurseries. As the former owner of a bead shop located adjacent to downtown in Franklin, NC, I am very aware of how hard these merchants work, and the amount of time and quality of effort that it takes not only to succeed, but to fulfill the trust given you by your customers. I have friends and acquaintances who own and operate small businesses, and I want to salute them, and all others like them in these pages.
I know that in our hectic and busy lives, we are often forced by time constraints and economics to take our business to the big box stores. Everything, I believe, has its place. However, shopping small local venues not only opens up a world of the unique and novel, of quality goods and personal service, but it slows us down— gives us a chance to enjoy ourselves and speaks to a deep-rooted part of us that remembers the market as a necessary social outlet as well. In the weeks and months to come, we at O Deer intend to take our visitors and guests on a tour of some of our favorite local places to shop, and hopefully, to discover new ones as well.
This past weekend, Gaia and I took a stroll through the Farmer’s Market in Downtown Daytona Beach. We had a blast, and came home with two bags full of goodies. It was hot, humid and sunny, but we got there fairly early (at Farmer’s Markets it is generally best practice to arrive as soon after they open as possible—produce gets picked over early and doesn’t last well in the heat).
There was not as much produce as when we went earlier this spring. Florida’s hot early summers are great for beans, squash and tomatoes, but many of the fresh greens and cooler season crops have went by the wayside. Since my tomato plants are only just starting to produce, I bought some of those juicy red fruits, and a big bag of conk peas (aka conch peas) a field pea like zippers, crowders, black-eyes, etc. I hadn’t had them before, but I shelled them out Saturday evening while watching a movie on TV, and our household has declared them delicious.
Of course, we didn’t go just for produce. The variety of items for sale at a farmer’s market varies from place to place, but can cover a huge range. We were not disappointed. There were organic nuts and snacks, a vendor of eggs, raw milk and some of the most fantastic cheese I have ever tasted, crafts and other handiwork.
Gaia and I stopped by the Herb and Tea Stall, enjoyed a free cup of alfalfa tea and had a delightful and educational chat with the vendor. We now have a lemongrass plant, and are looking forward to when it is large enough to use. We enjoyed all the crafts, from bird houses to hand-painted signs, home accessories and jewelry. It was fun talking to the various folks running the stalls and taking pictures. People were great about giving us permission to photograph their areas.
Possibly our favorite stop was by the small and quite adorable booth of The Roaming Roaster. All the coffee beans are roasted in small batches, and obviously with a lot of love. From the custom chalkboard signs, the mason jar packed coffee beans, and even a strategically placed container for recycling, the young couple behind the counter made the shopping experience a delight. And if you return your jar, they will take $1 off the next purchase.
As I said, we had a blast, and to recap our purchases—tomatoes, beans, squash, two plants, and Tanzania coffee beans. Hope you come along on our next local outing…