Vote with your dollars

What are the small businesses that you LOVE in your town?
Cakes Boutique in downtown Kalamazoo, MI is closing.

This might not mean much to you, but for me, it's a little bit heartbreaking.

Cakes Boutique was the first brick and mortar, actual, real-life store that carried La Vie en Orange's Upitees. They carried smaller, more unique labels that you couldn't find at other places in town and fiercely supported Kalamazoo's handmade community. 
Along with Handmade Kalamazoo, Cakes hosted our coming out party when LVEO moved from Seattle to Kalamazoo. Cakes helped welcome us into our new community and made sure we truly did have a home.
Owning a small business isn't easy, especially in retail. Income isn't steady; it's pretty seasonal (we make most of our money towards the end of the year when people are holiday shopping), and that can make it enormously challenging to keep the doors open year round.

And while Cakes' closing is for personal and family reasons, if they were making bank, you can be sure someone would've bought the business and it would have stayed open.

What can be frustrating and trying during times like these, when another small business is closing her doors, is the outpouring of support and indignation people express towards the closing.

Because the thing is, if this stream of support had been actual, real-life, money-spending customers while Cakes was still open, Cakes wouldn't be closing. How often are these "supporters" actually opening their wallets in Cakes or in other local or independent businesses?

All the "likes" in the world won't keep our doors open.
The truth is, if we supported places like Cakes with our wallets instead of just in our hearts or with our words, we would never lose another one.
What are the small businesses that you LOVE in your town? How many have closed that you still mourn and talk about? How often do you actually go through their doors and support them? Don't wait until your favorite business has had to make the heartbreaking decision to close, to tell them how much you love them.

If you want Yourtown, USA to not look like Anytown, USA, do something about it. Keep the fabulous, funky, cool Cakes of the world open so that the quirky La Vie en Oranges of the world will have a place to grow into. How else will all the things we treasure, the things we find special and unique, continue to exist?

So switch it up. Challenge your habits! Before pulling up Amazon or stopping by the mall, do a quick Google search for small businesses in your area that might have what you need.

Fridge list of our favorite small businesses to the rescue! | La Vie en Orange

Make a list of your favorite local businesses and their phone numbers - put it on the fridge or program their numbers into your phone. Always start with them. It's awesome to like them on Facebook and tell all your friends how much you love them, but make sure you're echoing that in the real world. Support their hard work with your hard-earned dollars.



And do your research - the next time you go to purchase from Etsy, make sure you're not getting mass produced goods (you heard about how Etsy changed their definition of "handmade" to allow factory made goods on the site...).

Yes, it can take longer. Every time I want to get a new bra, I end up waiting about 8 weeks for it to be handmade by Ohhh Lulu in the Toronto area. And it's worth every single minute of anticipation.
And it can mean we have to plan ahead and wrestle the Instant Gratification Monsters that tell us we should and can have everything we want 5 minutes ago. But that's work I'm betting most of us can stand to practice anyway ;)

Yes, it can be more expensive. We both know you could just go buy a pair of undies for a tenth of what our Upitees will cost you. But it's apples and oranges. 

You invest in La Vie en Orange's Upitees because they last 10 times as long as those bargain basement undies. Because they weren't made by a child in unsafe conditions. Or a woman working 12 hour days to make a few dollars a month. Because they were made with love by someone making a living wage. And because of our Hot Booty Guarantee. And because our Upitees make you feel like a super hero. It's a win win win win.

When you really start to think about what you "need," you might realize you can do with just a little less stuff that costs a little bit more because you bought independent or local. For real.

Shopping independent and local keeps money in the local economy. Any local economy, whether you're shopping downtown, or from an independent artisan across the country. Thank you for loving our Upitees, West Coasties! :) No matter where, it helps people like you!
And shopping independent or local creates jobs. We made a whole Pinterest board full of facts and figures about how awesome shopping local and independent is. Check it out here.

If you love local and independent, you have to vote with your dollars. There's no other way.

Let's start now. What are your favorite local and independent businesses? Use #ShopSmall to give them a shout out wherever your'e social media-ing, show your love in the comments below, or on this facebook post. We're also compiling a Pinterest board of our favorites here (and we'll for sure add yours!). Together we can help all lovers of Upitees discover other treasures :)

Follow La Vie en Orange's board Bizzie Smalls on Pinterest.

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May 16, 2016

Plata y Oro Jewelers on the Downtown Mall. Love them!

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May 07, 2015

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