Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Travel Tuesdays: Support Local Businesses and Artists

Whenever we travel, we do our best to shop in local businesses. Sometimes that can be a challenging endeavor. I remember a trip to Florida for our niece's wedding last winter. When I asked for a restaurant recommendation from the front desk, the first question, of course, was "What kind of food do you want?" My response was a simple, "Not a chain." In that particular area, my request was not so simple to fill. Every restaurant we had seen was a chain.  In the end, we found a Cuban-American place that was part of a small chain, but a local one still owned by the family that had opened it many years before.

Supporting locally owned businesses means supporting the local economy. And often you meet some wonderful "locals" in the process.

This happened recently when we visited 3 Fish Studios in San Francisco. We were greeted warmly by one of the artists, Eric Rewitzer. We had three kids with us- my nearly 11 year old son, my 7 1/2 year old daughter, and my 3 year old niece. They were as welcomed as the adults. Eric gave us a chance to view the art and answered our questions about his process. And then he did the coolest thing... he let each of the kids "pull a print."

Basically, that means he showed them how to ink his linoleum carvings

 Line everything up to run it through the press

Crank it through

And Voila!

Each of our kids made a print and got to bring it home. 

I found our visit to be exceptional. But these are the kinds of amazing things that can happen when you stop into a local business. (Long time readers may remember I told of another great experience at an artist's studio in Acadia, ME). I had never been in 3 Fish Studios before this day and did not know this artist, yet our visit became one of the highlights of our trip. And we got some meaningful souvenirs  in the process!

I know most of my readers don't live in San Francisco and may never have a chance to visit 3 Fish Studios (though I hope you will if you get to San Francisco!). But this post is about visiting the local business or artist wherever you travel. 

Try to get off the beaten path, the route that all tourists travel, and find an interesting local person to interact with. If it's in your budget, make a purchase, even if it's something small.

What interesting interactions have you had while visiting a local business or artists studio?


  1. Excellent point, Michelle. It reminded of the time I was driving across Wyoming on my way to live with the Cheyenne for a week. Hungry, I stopped in a tiny town, at a tiny place with only one sign that said "Eat Here". The owner and his wife were a retired couple from Southie! What followed was an amazing, home cooked meal and long discussion about Southie, the Irish, and everything Wyoming! =) I think there are a lot of stories like this when people make the local stop...

    1. So true, Mark. I have experiences like this over and over again. Thanks for sharing yours.

  2. I live in SF and purchased a couple of prints from 3 Fish Studios for our home. Seriously the nicest people. Eric delivered the large piece to our door and installed both of them. The pieces are also great. One of the best things about SF is definitely all the great local businesses.

  3. Hello Heather. Thanks for visiting. I'm not surprised to hear about this amazing customer service from 3 Fish Studios. Indeed, SF offers lots of opportunities to support local businesses. That can be harder in suburbia where big box stores have driven out many mom and pop places.