Dave loves to rope me into his crazy ideas.
First was our original business venture, which due to the pandemic we had to pause and pivot to Keep Local Alive. Then, it was a nation-wide road trip, still during the same pandemic, so we could meet the businesses we’re trying to save with Keep Local Alive.
I can’t pretend I was all in from the start. I was a little bit anxious because I didn’t know what to expect. I didn’t know what the reception was gonna be like.
When it really blew up, we thought, “holy crap,” because Tucson is not the same as Omaha,
I was hesitant until we reached Tucson, AZ. When it really blew up, we thought, “holy crap,” because Tucson is not the same as Omaha, NE, so we thought, “How do we get more ppl’s attention?” And what’s a way to people’s attention, it’s to do something epic.
So we set off. We stopped at 68 cities, met around 200 business owners, from Sarasota, FL, all the way to Seattle, and closed it out in my home turf of Omaha, where it all started.
Moral of the story, Dave--sometimes--has great ideas.
To say we were blown away by the response is an understatement. We were surprised to see that the same blood runs through everybody’s veins. The stories were so similar between business owners. Even as every business was unique in its own way, we kept hearing the same story over and over.
When we set off, Dave and I were looking forward to Coachella Valley because it was the first place where someone was excited enough about our movement that she reached out to us and started their own Keep Local Alive™ Facebook group.
I was also, personally, looking forward to returning to my stomping grounds in Tulsa, OK, I already knew a lot of local business owners there, and it was really exciting to get to see them all again.
We were surprised to see that the same blood runs through everybody’s veins.
We found gems in every corner of the country. Giant burgers in Kennewick, WA, burgers made of donuts in Austin, a flower shop in Baton Rouge, LA, that is nearly a hundred years old… You name it, we found it.
The optimism, unity and community we found in every city we stopped was inspiring. I saw a lot of reasons to love America and the cities and communities that define it: an incredible amount of resilience.
I fell in love with every city we visited. Everywhere we went, we were received with so much warmth. Hearing all the stories and insight and passion from employees and customers was heartwarming.
It re-enforced the passion people, including myself, have for their local businesses, as owners and community members. Some of the closures due to Covid were honest tragedies for these communities, and it shocked business owners around the country. But the resilience and love their communities showed was so inspiring!
I think Covid showed many of us how important local businesses are and shined a light on a problem taking over america: we forget these gems exist. If I learned anything is that this movement is important. Not Dave or I, but you going out, making the choice and the change to support these businesses.
We are simply spreading the message, but you are the change.