The 2012 Salt Lake City Indie Impact Study demonstrates that locally owned businesses in Utah return, on average, 3% of their revenue to charity – a full percentage point more than other local businesses across the country. We at Local First Utah are particularly proud of that simple statistic, because we think it points to a larger facet of culture in Utah. Here, we love our neighbors.
Our local businesses not only give to charity at a higher rate than national chain stores, but they link us together in a web of economic and social relationships. The staff of Local First Utah has the frequent privilege of hearing wonderful stories about our local business community. We thought we’d pass on just a few of these stories that show just how much we love our neighbors.
If you’re ever looking for inspiration, have a conversation with Kathie Chadbourne, owner of the Avenues Bistro on Third. Her stories are abundant and remarkable, ranging from anonymous gift cards taped to the door while the restaurant was being remodeled, to an unexpectedly packed house on the night that she “tested” whether or not the open sign worked, to an army of support staff provided by other local restaurateurs on a day when her former chef staged a walk out, taking much of the kitchen staff with him. Having received so much love from her neighbors, Kathie balks at the idea that the Avenues Bistro belongs to her, commenting rather, “It belongs to us all. It’s our restaurant.”
For the last two summers, Maryann Alston and her husband have hosted farmers’ markets at Garner Village, South Towne Mall and Wheeler Farm, working to create a truly local, community marketplace in Salt Lake County. The Alstons also run the Wasatch Front Farmers’ Market Store, located at 5823 South State Street, keeping the outstanding products of Utah’s food artisans available year round. The day after Christmas, the Market Store was burglarized. The theft resulted in the loss of their laptop, which contained all their business records for 2012, a television, and more than $2,000 worth of damage to the store. Ordinarily, this kind of set back would be devastating for a small business. Maryann posted a simple Facebook status regarding the break in, and before she knew it, patrons, vendors and friends began a “Fix the Door Fund,” and donated a new television to the store. As Maryann said regarding her experience, “We may never get our stolen goods back, but we know that these thieves cannot steal the community we have been embraced by.”
When Mololo Gardens advertised the comically titled, but seriously intended “Stop-Dad-From-Giving-Us-The-Axe-Sale” on Facebook, it was somewhat of a gamble. The potential loss of the Mololo Gardens retail store, meant saving the Mololo Gardens farm. Literally. The family that runs Mololo Gardens are first and foremost farmers, but out of a love for all things local, they opened as retail store on 400 South featuring Utah-made products ranging from mouthwash to chocolate tortillas. The store also offers gardening classes, hosts local artists and musicians, and regularly open their doors to homeless neighbors, feeding them made from scratch soup and chili. After a tough January, it seemed like the store would need to close its doors – until hundreds of people showed up for the one day sale to show their support, and spend a few dollars, in order to keep Mololo Gardens in business.