Downtown Chapel Hill

Downtown Blog

Self Challenge: 30 Days of Living Locally


Today, I have a pretty short to-do list: Buy a new bottle of shampoo, have two copies made of my house keys, and get my aunt a birthday gift. I could easily head down 15-501, make a quick stop at Home Depot for the keys, and then wander around Target for a birthday gift and bottle of shampoo (and let’s be honest, probably some other things I “had to have”). 


So, for a summary of my trip:
Items purchased: 3 + a few other things (Score! Errands done!)
Total trip time: Probably around 1.5 hours (including driving time)
Miles Drive: About 15
Healthy exercise accomplished: Walking from the car to the store (and I probably covered most of Target!)  
Money spent locally: $0


While I would be able to accomplish my to-dos for the day, I probably wouldn’t describe this trip as very “satisfying” or one I would really look forward to (and let me say here that I do enjoy running errands). I’d have to drive to get there, which as an eco-conscious lady, I don’t really prefer. The gift I bought is probably not very personal, similar to the seven identical mugs, or picture frames, or earrings still sitting on the shelf. And I didn’t really get any exercise or time in the sun, and most likely I didn’t bump into anyone I knew while I slipped in and out of these stores. So considering all this, are there any alternatives?


Luckily, yes! And luckily the alternative is probably something that most Chapel Hillians and Carroborites do quite often – Shop locally! Walk or bike there! Keep your money in your community! Splendid!
So, considering all this, I’ve set a new goal for myself: Only shop at locally-owned stores, only eat at locally-owned restaurants, and only be entertained at locally-owned venues for the month of August. Since we live in such a unique area with so many locally-owned places, I don’t think this challenge will be especially hard, I just think it will require some creativity. (And note: I only chose to do this for a month because I like definition to my challenges, but I am hoping this will extend for longer than a month.)
Since I work near downtown Chapel Hill, I anticipate that most of my local shopping and eating will be accomplished on Franklin and Rosemary Streets. I may have to venture a little farther along Rosemary to Main and Weaver Streets in Carrboro to do my grocery shopping, but the bulk of my purchases will probably be made during lunch and after work.
So let’s reevaluate my to-do list:
Buy a bottle of shampoo: Easy! Head over to Sutton’s Drug Store at 159 E. Franklin – success!
Have copies of my keys made: With Brown’s Paint & Hardware at 420 W. Franklin, this was an easy task
Get my aunt a birthday gift: LightYears at 121 E. Franklin had just what I needed (although I could have also tried Bevello, Uniquities, The Bookshop, or many other stores)
Items purchased: 3 (Score! Errands done!)
Total trip time: Probably around 45 minutes (with no driving time!) -  Easily accomplished during my lunch break
Miles Drive: 0
Healthy exercise accomplished: Walking all along Franklin Street with the added bonus that I saw a friend and a coworker!
Money spent locally: About $25
Megan doesn't really have a mustache. She just thinks they are fun!So I invite all of you who are interested in spending your money wisely and in ways that can benefit the community to take on a similar self-challenge. And hopefully, our challenge will continue long past a month (but you’ve got to start somewhere manageable!).
So here I come, haircuts, hamburger and sushi lunches (maybe not at the same time), muffin purchases, dry cleaning pickups, book acquisitions, and after-work drinks – all purchased locally on Franklin and Rosemary Streets!
Do you know of a great local shop (anywhere in Chapel Hill, Carrboro, or Durham) to get things you normally would get at a national chain store? Let us know! Post it here! (Currently, I confounded by where to get underwear . . . I’m just hoping I won’t need to buy any this month!)
Megan is an urban planner who enjoys when living well, locally, and healthily is easy for people to do. In her next post, she will provide more information about the tangible benefits of shopping locally.