Small business Saturday is celebrated every November on the Saturday following Thanksgiving (and more importantly Black Friday) it was created as a way to encourage people to frequent their local small business rather than just the huge, big boxed stores for holiday shopping. I’m a HUGE fan of local small businesses and like to encourage everyone to frequent them…for many reasons.
First off, while I worked in Virginia Beach, I worked for a small locally owned car-electronics shop, and…well…their is SO much more you can do and offer in the way of customer service at a small business. 10 days out of your warranty? No problem! You’re a good customer, we’ll handle it! Big boxed store (that I won’t name) that was right down the street…could careless if you’re ten days or day out of the warranty…they’re going to charge you…and they have no idea if you’ve spent $5,000 with them…if you spent $5,000 with me at the local business…I’m going to remember you and your name. I’m going to help you even more because you have been loyal. Don’t have something you want? We’d order it, you’d get it in 24 hours…and despite popular belief…a lot of times we were a hell of a lot cheaper in the over all pricing than the big boxed store.
Secondly, local businesses, especially farms and bakeries don’t have stuff shipped…so you get it for less, and it’s fresher, and you’re helping the environment by not contributing to all that air pollution that’s caused from transportation.
So this Saturday, we hit up the Blacksburg Farmer’s Market…now, January probably not the best time for Farmer’s Market, but you can find good stuff at Farmer’s Markets all year round. And in fact, the BBurg farmers market website has a great listing so you always know what’s in season! We picked up some great potatoes, broccoli, and apples. They also had great selections of onions, garlic and spices…which we already had at home so we didn’t pick up…but we will next time! There was also a gentleman there selling Lavender products…I usually get my Lavender stuff from Beagle Ridge Herb Farm in Wytheville, but it is an hours drive so that’s limited to only when I’m in the area for other stuff. So, I was visiting the stand of Mystic River Nursery. They have some amazing lavender soap, and lip balm! Plus of course dried lavender. In warmer months they also sell veggies and herbs. Great to have source for local, homemade, safe, organic beauty products!
The entire reason we visited the Farmer’s Market was to hit up the infamous Crepe Lady…sadly, she was absent during our visit No worries crepe lady…we’ll be back. I LOVE crepes, and it’s very hard to find good ones…not those nasty, imitation that-are-really-thin-pancakes stuff they serve at Ihop. But truly good honest crepes…so we hit up Our Daily Bread in Blacksburg for breakfast…and bingo, they had crepes! Hubby got the Tomato, Spinach, and Cream Cheese omelet which comes with a side of toast and homemade jelly…it disappeared in like 60 seconds, so I’d assume it was good. The crepe…ahh…to die for…comes sprinkled with powdered sugar, a side of strawberries and blueberries and freshly whipped cream…they were tender with a touch of crisp and the sweetness from the berries nicely complimented the creaminess of the whipped cream…which I should mention was not overly sweet (a mistake a lot of places make). Usually I’d take a picture to share with you…but well I was WAY too distracted by the yumminess…and they were gone before I realized it. So, I scoured the web trying to find you a picture…apparently everyone else had that problem too. Don’t worry, I’ll get you one for a future post…great excuse to go back.
While there we picked up some freshly baked bread. They had a buy 2 get 1 free special running so we got cheddar onion, 7-grain and whole wheat bread. Two are tossed in the freezer and the other we had for dinner. It was absolutely amazingly delicious…can’t rave about it enough! Moist and soft inside with just the right amount of crispy bite on the outside. The onion wasn’t over powering but rather delicate as was the cheddar so you could really taste the bread.
After the bakery (where we ran into some friends…always fun at local businesses). We went to Backcountry Ski & Sport, also in Blacksburg. (Not to be confused with the online backcountry.com) They’ve been in business since 1979 and they’re the shop I use to frequent when I grew up in the New River Valley. They’re still amazing. Blue Ridge Mountain Sports built a store down the street about a mile or so, and I was really worried when they opened. I was a frequent shopper at BRMS when I lived in Virginia Beach…GREAT customer service, anytime I needed anything they were more than happy to help. Don’t have something, they’d order it, many times getting it within a day or two. They donated lunches to our hiking group whenever we did trail work, they’d give goody bags to our Backpacking 101 classes…including really awesome CamelBak water bottles. I was always sending our backpacking beginners there, they’d help them fit a backpack, pick the right stove or water filter and let you wear the boots around the store while you shopped just to make sure they were exactly the right fit. And I never once had a beginner come in with something WAY more expensive than what they needed…BRMS never upsold just to upsell. So…well, I loved my Virginia Beach Blue Ridge…so what would happen to my beloved Blacksburg Backcountry when BRMS newer fancier store opened? I was scared! Fortunately, (or sadly depending on how you look at it) it’s not a problem. Backcountry offers discounts to scouts, outdoor groups, students…and a whole host of other things. And they take in old fuel canisters to recycle them…and when you bring in your old fuel canister to recycle, you get 10% off the purchase of new ones! Win-win! They’re in the middle of their winter clearance sale, so we did a little shopping…sadly the jacket I wanted they didn’t have in my size…so we headed to the dreaded Blue Ridge down the street.
As I said, I loved my Blue Ridge in Virginia Beach (and the Charlottesville one, too, I should add…have had to stop there a few times when hikers forgot stuff). The Blacksburg one…well….they leave a lot to be desired. This Saturday the two employees did actually acknowledge us…which is a huge improvement. I’ve been in that start at least 10 times and this is the first time an employee has greeted me or offered to help me. The one time the hubby went in for a map, he browsed the map section for a good ten minutes and couldn’t find it, so he want to the front to find an employee (who were hanging out chit chatting and hadn’t acknowledged him) for help, he had to interrupt their conversation and ask them if they had the map he wanted…the employee pointed him to the directions of the maps…helpful, right? In Virginia Beach, the clerk would walk over to the maps, check and see if they could find it, if not, go to the computer and start tracking it down. Hubby walked out of the store…went down the street to Backcountry, they didn’t have it either…clerk offered to order it, hubby informed him that he really needed it tomorrow (fortunately he left out any references to a slacker, procrastinating wife). The clerk proceeded to contact every store (should mention, not associated with backcountry stores) between Blacksburg and our intended trailhead 2 hours away to see if anyone had it. That is WAY beyond any customer service I’d expect…and they have re-won themselves a loyal customer. (Plus lots of great publicity at backpacking 101 classes). And if you’re wondering…they didn’t have the jacket I wanted either.
So we headed home for dinner…and what a dinner it was. Broccoli and potatoes with herbs, spices and onions topped with Parmesan reggiano cheese, with Cheddar Onion bread and a veggie “chicken” patty. Everything on the plate was locally made (except the veggie patty…can barely find them in my local Kroger, much less at smaller stores). And for desert homemade apple crisp with vanilla ice cream (also, all local). The apple crisp disappeared pretty quick…so no photos…sorry. But, I’ll leave you with these.