Thursday, July 18, 2013

Your Arts Desire in Minnetonka or Look Local!

Don’t you enjoy doing business with local stores and vendors? It’s one of the main reasons we’re in the farmers market business (at least my wife is). I go out of my way to choose a local shop before descending on the Best Buy Company or Target Stores or Staples. I find I get better and more personal service and I generally become quite good friends with the owners.
by Charlie Leck

If I want to buy simple light bulbs or some kind of extension cord – a small lamp or lighting fixture –some outdoor lighting decorations – I don’t go running to a big electrical store or the Home Depots or Menards of the world. In this case I go to the wonderful little store in Hopkins called Electric Craftsman. The store is at 1424 Main Street in Hopkins. They’ve been giving us great service – repairing lamps, providing lamp shades and specialty light bulbs – for years.

I hope you’ll all think local before getting on line. It seems that Amazon owns tons of on-line shopping sites these days. They’ve become one of the biggest companies in the nation. Though it seems easy to shop that way, there are much more enjoyable experiences waiting for you in the small, privately owned shops in or near your own home town. And, you’ll be helping out local folks who are trying to run successful businesses. When you buy clothing, why go through Amazon or the big department store chains. There are several wonderful and local clothing retailers near my home and probably yours too.

On-line shopping puts zero into your local economy!
A hundred bucks spent in a locally owned and independent business puts about $68 into the local economy (in taxes, payroll and miscellaneous spending). Spend the same on-line and you put zero into your community.

Your Arts Desire
One of my favorite places to do my Christmas shopping is at a little art store and framing shop in Minnetonka,
Your Arts Desire. It’s owned by Ken Herren and his wife, Melissa Williamson-Herren. I’ve been doing business with them for a terribly long time. How long? Oh, about 30 years or so. I keep going back because they’re so damned nice and because they always do this “satisfaction guaranteed” thing on their framing – or they’ll “redo” until you’re pleased. Amazingly, I’ve never once asked for anything to be redone. As I write this blog, I can let my eyes roam around my study and see dozens of pieces of art and photographs that they’ve framed so beautifully for me.

At Christmas time, Melissa wanders around the shop with me telling me about some of the wonderful, small pieces of art, art jewelry and useful pottery that they sell for local artists. The price is a bit more than I’d spend in a shop at the mall, but I know I’m supporting a local retail business and local artists when I buy from Milissa and Ken. And, the recipients of these gifts always seem pleased with what they receive.

Right now I’ve begun giving thought to restoring the patina on a bronze sculpture I have outside, along the driveway that approaches our house. It was done by the Minnesota sculptor, Paul Granlund. Anne gave it to me for my 40th birthday – a long, long time ago. It’s
called “Reflection” and I just adore her and often, in the autumn or winter, I’ll stop by to see her and talk to her a bit. Anyway, I gave Ken a call at Your Arts Desire yesterday and asked about restorers. He let me know that he’d be happy to help me find someone and promised to call around for me. I can depend on Ken and I’ll know he’ll get back to me. That comes from years of doing business with him.

On the web site of Your Arts Desire, I saw that they have a little blog, so I read through some of the postings. If you’re interested in getting to know them (Ken and Melissa), taking a look at their blog would be a good way to do it. You must scroll down a little ways on their page to find their most recent postings. From the top it looks as if they haven’t written anything in awhile. Not true. Melissa posts quite regularly and it’s interesting stuff. Nevertheless, I’m going to encourage Melissa to write more often, to reorganize that page, and to give some time to introducing us to some of the artists they represent.

Ken himself is quite an accomplished artist and it is my goal to own and hang something of his here in my home someday.

Well, it’s one small example of making sure you do business locally. Not only am I helping out a small, small business, but I’m making friends at the same time. One of these days I’ll even convince them to stop calling me “Mr. Leck.”

CSA, for instance!
We really recommend that you all think about becoming CSA members, wherever you live. That’s Community Supported Agriculture. I’ll bet there are plenty of them in your community, wherever you live, and you’ll discover wonderful features and benefits by doing business with them. We’re members of a couple of them and get fresh lettuces and a host of wonderful seasonal vegetables each and every week. Here’s
a list of CSA vendors in Minnesota. You should be able to find a list for your part of the nation too.

The 3/50 Project
You should also take a look at
the 3/50 Project that Ken and Melissa explain on their web site. The project, as I’ve linked to it here, leads you a free app, Look Local, that you can put on your smart phone. The app will help you find local places to shop near you. It’s an app that “helps you locate fabulous ‘mom and pop’ businesses you’ll love and won’t want to miss whether at home or on the road!” Doesn’t that sound great?

When you think of making a purchase, Look Local! You’ll be helping out a neighbor.

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