Friday, September 5, 2014

Thriving In Your Community - Keep it Local

My Thriving Mommy has always been an "adventurer" of sorts.  She loves to set out into the world around her and see what she can find.  Restaurants, stores full of treasures, hidden name it and she has or will find it.  She isn't one to use technology to find her way, she just goes for it, typically on her two feet.  I grew up with this "support your local community" attitude and therefore love a good adventure or hidden find myself.

With so much reliance on GPS, Google and Yelp these days, we are all missing out on the many "hole in the wall" establishments around us everyday.  Why run to the major stores when we can support the Mom & Pop that if often right around the corner.  So, let me share with you the best way to maximize your local community and get exploring!

How to be a proper explorer:
  • Go for a walk.  You would be amazed at all the things you can find in your neighborhood by just going on a walk.  While walking, go ahead and stop in to places that appear interesting.  I love nothing more than searching through a random strip mall.  I mean, you have no idea what may be hiding in there.
  • Take a new route home every now and again.  Heading home usually means switching to auto pilot, but maybe a few times a week try taking a different route home.  You never know what you may find by just staying on the freeway for an extra exit and taking a different street home.
  • Be aware when driving.  Whether you are in the driver seat or simply a passenger, absorb what is around you.  See something interesting? Make a point to go check it out the next time you pass by.
  • Check it out.  This can sometimes be the hardest part for the non adventurers, the actual act of going in somewhere.  I do this all the time and often drag my TH or anyone who is with me along for he ride.  Whether just going in to see what the store name really means, what "consignments" could be inside or even just grabbing a menu and checking out the cleanliness of a restaurant, I am all about checking things out.
  • Follow up interesting leads.  I tend to be an observer; listening, I said, observing.  You wouldn't believe how often I hear people chatting about an estate sale coming up the next day or catching a sign for evening of music in the park.  I have no problem following up a random lead with a, "I'm so sorry to interrupt, but I couldn't help overhear you chatting about an estate sale? Since I too love estate sales, I wasn't sure if you would mind sharing the address with me?".  Don't be nervous to follow up on any and all never know where they could take you.
  • Get out there and make friends!  My Thriving Mommy had not even spent a full 24 hours in her new Laguna Beach home before setting out and making besties with the owner of a local coffee shop and hardware store.  So typical of her and well...of me too.  She not only enjoyed a lovely encounter with locals, but gained information about her local scene and now has contacts for future localvore intel. Slap on that smile, ask some questions and prepared to find tons of amazing things!
  • Be willing to try new things.   It is a rare occasion if you find me in a Starbucks.  I would much rather hit up the nearest gas station for a KTO special (1/4-1/3 hot chocolate with a coffee topper of your choice, get even sassier with a hit of cinnamon).  Your nearest gas station has excellent coffee, a variety of choices and is 1/3 the price.  What is not to love?!  Since my manicures/waxing sessions are a must have for me, it is important to find the right salon.  This too falls under the duty of a localvore.  Find some place close to home, check it out, get some prices then either try it or move on to the next one if you don't like it (for example, the one closest to my house is way too "nail stinky" for me).  Don't shy away from tiny little local restaurants, they could easily become your favorite and make you feel so "Cheers" like when you walk in and can be chatty with the owners!
Being a community hunter may not be easy for everyone, it does require a certain sense of outgoing-ness and level of adventure seeking.  But I assure you, if you are willing to get out of your comfort zone in an effort to discover all that is around you, you often will be far from disappointed.  I am still fumbling upon great finds nearly every day, so you should too...and share them!

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