Growing up, I didn’t think much about where my money went when I made purchases. As I matured and began to understand about business, the economy, and consumerism, I became more interested in what I was supporting with my small purchases. The small vs. big business competition has been around forever, with mom and pop stores competing with huge corporations with tons of funding, franchises, outsourcing, etc. The consumer plays an important role in the capitalism of America, and that’s what makes our country great. Orlando/Central Florida has a strong small business presence, but it also has a strong commercialized, big business presence. It seems to be the trend (in the Orlando/Winter Park area at least) to support small businesses and “shop small.” I support this initiative as much as possible, since most of my “go-to” places happen to be locally owned.
There are many benefits to shopping small and locally. To begin, before an independently owned store/business is opened, a chain (of most likely) local people are being employed. The list can consist of but are not limited to: engineers, architects, construction workers, accountants, advertisers, attorneys, designers, sign makers, etc., all used before the place is even open! Compared to big companies who typically have contracts with source which aren’t local. As the big business opens, all the revenue is sent to the corporate headquarters, where it is distributed to employees at a different location, supporting another city’s economy. In contrast, an independently owned/local business more than likely keeps the profits within the city it resides in, replenishing it’s local economy.
In addition to the benefits to our local economy, small businesses are more malleable. Meaning, they are more likely to alter to our community’s wants, needs, or best interest. For example, Starbucks will always carry the same items across the nation, but a local coffee shop like Downtown Credo, or Propagation may carry items they know their regulars enjoy. (Fun fact: Propagation only uses almond milk vs/ Starbucks carrying coconut milk, soy milk, non fat milk, 2%, and half and half.) Also, many local restaurants and cafes carry farm fresh items from local farms. The restaurant I work at, Seito Sushi and New Japanese, which is independently owned by Jason and Sue Chin, whom also own The Osprey Tavern (both in Baldwin Park), use items in their kitchen from local farms. In addition, this past month the Executive Chef, Austin Boyd, and Sous Chef, Huy Tin, of Seito have planted herbs such as dill, cilantro, basil, etc., outside the restaurant for use in our dishes. This “farm to table” initiative shows that local businesses care about their community.
As a consumer, shopping small whether it’s a boutique, farmers market, restaurant, coffee shop, book store, etc., there is a trade off for the quality you’re receiving. Typically the prices will be a little bit higher than what you could find at a huge chain business, but the return is far greater. Knowing that the money is providing quality materials and will be distributed to employees locally and used to continue the business, makes it alright for me.
For my project I focused on mainly food/drink places. It was hard to choose only a few, since there are so many the commmunity enjoys in the Orlando/Winter Park area. I chose the ones I visit frequently. The local businesses I went to are: Juic’d, Downtown Credo, East End Market, Skybird, Porch Therapy, bookmark it, Remix Vintage Decor, Stardust Video & Coffee, The Soda Fountain,,and Propagation. While I wish I could’ve displayed Seito, The Osprey Tavern, Krung Thep, The Porch, Briarpatch, The Chic Boutique, Park Ave Cds, and so so many more, I only had a limited amount of time to visit every place while also supporting their business.
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Juic’d is a place locals love going to for a nice refreshing smoothie, cold pressed juice, or acai bowl. Their ingredients are super fresh and its a perfect addition to a sunny afternoon walking around Lake Eola.
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Downtown Credo has two locations, one in the Florida Hospital area off of Princeton and one in College Park, each are very popular within the Orlando community. This one is almost inside Florida Hospital and it’s always filled with employees on their break.
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East End Market off of Corrine Drive in Orlando/ Audubon Park area is a perfect example of shopping small. This market is home to plenty of local businesses that sell coffee, plants, juice, books, yoga classes, bread, and home to a nice restaurant. They have a very plentiful garden in front, and there are always people in here. The community loves East End Market, as it is considered a trendy place to go because of their cool ambiance and great products!
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Remix Vintage Decor is a neat store off of Mills with vintage house decorations and furniture. They also sell used vinyls, my friend Sophie Schnaper is sifting through the $1 vinyls outside of the shop.
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Stardust is a great study place I enjoy going to. It has a very calm feeling inside, and is filled with art from all sorts of local artists. They have coffee, tea, and a bar. They offer poetry readings, and a wide array of performers at night. Whenever I come there are many people enjoying the company of friends, or doing work. It’s a great place for both.
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This has to be my favorite ice cream place off Edgewater in College Park. The “birthday cake” ice cream is amazing, and the 50s diner design inside looks like it came out of Grease. They are currently expanding to begin selling gourmet hot dogs as well. This place has it all.
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Propagation is my favorite “coffee shop.” I have to admit when I’m on the go before class or work I will go to Starbucks, but when I have time to actually sit down and enjoy coffee with a friend I always come here. It has a very visually pleasing, minimalist design. The open setting is super calming and neutral colors/plants and succulents add to the zen feeling.
Throughout my journey to figure out what impact small businesses have on the Orlando/Winter Park area, I learned far more than I expected. Not only did I realize how often I support the local economy, I realized how important it is to keep these small businesses open. Even if one of these places were to close, there would be such a negative impact on the community. So, next time you’re running errands, think of a local business you can go to. Whether it’s a dry cleaners, farmers market, restaurant, coffee shop, clothing store, record store, anything! Orlando has it all small. Small businesses are the heart of Orlando.