During our first few weeks of shelter in place, like many people, I turned to online shopping to meet my household’s needs. Suddenly, errands that I would have taken care of in town – from picking up garden fertilizer to getting Easter basket supplies – became overwhelming.
It probably won’t be a surprise that the “one stop shop” I found online was Amazon. Hundreds of dollars and more than ten shipments later, I knew I wanted to do a better job supporting my local economy, choosing thoughtful planning over convenience.
To start, I thought about the businesses that were my “go-tos,” — the ones that I always frequented before coronavirus. I looked online to see what they were offering and how I could help. Nearly all the businesses in town had quickly adapted, finding ways to meet demand while helping their customers get what they needed.
Then, I took it a step further, and now if I need something for my household I first ask myself whether I can get it locally within reason and (mostly) within budget. For example, I knew my children both needed shoes, and instead of opting for Amazon I took the time to reach out to our local shoe store and they were able to find just what we needed and even price match. We walked away with five pairs of shoes, and supported a small local business. It was a win-win.
The following is a short list of Eugene-area (and even Portland-area) businesses we have supported in the past two months. It is by no means exhaustive, but it gives you an idea of many ways you might support the local economy during these challenging times.
Bricks & Minifigs
Bricks and Minifigs is a popular LEGO resale store. Before Easter, my son remembered that he had gotten LEGO in his basket in the past, and I gently braced him for the fact that he may get less in his Easter basket this year. Then, I looked online, and discovered the local store was offering online shopping and curbside pickup (within one hour). We made some swift purchases, picked them up curbside, and his Easter was a little brighter.
Broadley makes wonderful local wines and has been generous to the community, and I wanted to make sure to support them in turn. Broadley is just one of many Eugene-area wineries that are offering curbside pickup and free or low-cost delivery, so if you are missing your spring jaunts out to the wineries, be sure to visit your favorites online or perhaps take a country drive. (Broadley also just announced that this Thursday, they will be reopening the riverfront patio under social distancing guidelines.)
Burch’s is a local shoe company offering styles for the entire family. They went to great lengths to help me find what I needed for my family, offering fit advice over the phone, as well as much back and forth via text (with pictures) until I found just what I was looking for. Then, I paid over the phone and picked up my shoes in a drop box outside of their outlet store.
Camas Country Mill
I’m embarrassed to say, I only just learned of this wonderful whole grain and artisan flour mill a week ago, but I am glad I did. With many people expanding their baking skills during these at home times, it’s great to have a locally grown flour option, and I must say the spelt pancakes we made for Mother’s Day were delicious. As an extra bonus, if you’ve been itching to get out of the house, you can place your order over the phone and take a lovely country drive out to pick it up curbside. They also have a variety of pastries to choose from, so be sure to pick some up if you drive out there. They are well worth it.
Camas Swale Farm
We love supporting our local farmer’s market and picking out our own produce. Because of this, we have never subscribed to a CSA. Until now. This year, in a desire to avoid the packed market but still support our local farmers, we joined for the first time. CSA, or Community Supported Agriculture, is a way for consumers to buy local, seasonal food directly from a farmer. The farmer offers a certain number of “shares” to the public, which usually involves a box of produce but can even include products such as meat and dairy. By purchasing a share, the consumer receives a box of seasonal produce each week, throughout the growing season. We chose this farm at the recommendation of a friend, but there are many wonderful farms to choose from throughout the state. Willamette Farm & Food Coalition offers a detailed guide, available here.
Heritage Distilling Company
With parents working harder than ever, an occasional cocktail over Zoom with friends may offer some festivity, so if your supplies are running low it may be time to look to your local distillery. Many are also producing hand sanitizers these days, so if you are running low, you can pick up a bottle curbside as well.
Johnson Brother’s Nursery
Just a 15-minute drive from town, Johnson Brother’s is a second generation family business, offering a full array of plants and gardening supplies to beautify your landscape.
Provisions Market Hall
Marche Provisions at 5th Street Market has been a favorite local business since we moved to Eugene more than a decade ago. Many good memories have been had at Provisions Market Hall and their other locations – after school treats with the kids, afternoon coffees at the University of Oregon branch, local events such as Haunted Market, and even special date night wine classes. They have quickly adapted to meet local needs and are currently offering takeout (dinner, pizza, and wine boxes) with curbside pickup at both Provisions and Provisions South locations. Provisions Market Hall is planning to reopen June 1 with all safety protocols in place, and will continue to offer online shopping options. Marche Restaurant is slated to open its dining room and patio on a limited basis on May 25. The Museum Café will be closed until the University of Oregon reopens.
We live in Eugene but visit Portland regularly, and Powell’s is always a favorite stop. Initially, Powell’s was not ready to take online orders, and I placed my first book and game order at Amazon. Now that they are up and running online we have purchased from them several times and will always chose to support them first if we can.
Wags! Dog Emporium
If your best friend is running low on supplies, Wags! Dog Emporium is set up nicely for safe social-distance shopping. (They also have quite a few cat supplies as well.) I have been in twice with my furry friend and the open space, automatic doors, and ample hand sanitizer made me feel comfortable doing my in-person shopping here.
Camille is a Pacific Northwest native who was born in Seattle and moved to Oregon to raise her family after nine years in California and New York. She is a graduate of both the University of Washington (BA) and University of Oregon (MPA), and has worked professionally for local and national nonprofits. Travel, health and wellness, and family and friends are among her greatest priorities, and she loves exploring the Northwest and beyond with her family. You may find her hiking in the old growth or trying a new eatery, and either way she is home.