Home Sections Archive by category Shop Local

Shop Local

Shop Local Special Coverage

Gifts for Every Season

By Manon L. Mirabelli

Michelle Wirth says the Feel Good Shop Local

Michelle Wirth says the Feel Good Shop Local website gives area merchants access to many more shoppers.

The gift-giving season is quickly approaching, and the business of everyday life can make it difficult to find the perfectly thoughtful gift. Fortunately, the 413 is full of good ideas.

Michelle Wirth, founder and CEO of Feel Good Shop Local — and a believer in the importance of supporting local retailers — has been working with area merchants since 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic halted business as we knew it.

A successful marketing executive and entrepreneur, Wirth — who, with her husband, Peter, brought Mercedes-Benz of Springfield to the region — said she has always been passionate about supporting local, independent businesses.

“People today are busy and don’t have time to do research to find small businesses,” she said. “But we can’t have a vibrant downtown if we don’t support small businesses throughout the year so they can survive.”

Wirth established Feel Good Shop Local (FGSL) and its website, www.feelgoodshoplocal.com, to support independent merchants and empower conscientious consumers by offering a simple online solution for those who want to shop locally and/or to support small businesses, she explained.

“Small business is the backbone of any thriving community, and FGSL wants to create an elevated online experience so shopping locally becomes the go-to solution when trying to find great products easily.”

Not only does FGSL support local commerce, the nonprofit organization also increases sales for small-business merchants by making its online store available to them to sell their goods. The concept behind the website is to offer consumers an alternate shopping stream while boosting sales for the businesses.

The website, Wirth noted, gives merchants access to a significantly greater number of shoppers. It started with 20 businesses and has increased to 50 this year, offering consumers a wide array of shopping options.

“Our online e-commerce website shop is a one-stop shop that gives small, local business access and exposure to new consumers who would not otherwise know about the business,” she said. “We’re giving these businesses access to sales, vitality, and exposure. We’re doing the heavy lifting for business and the consumer.”

As a busy mom of four and business owner, Wirth understands the challenges consumers face when balancing the need for convenience and the desire to make value-driven purchasing choices. She personally curates a selection of the best products from independent merchants and local makers.

The shopping convenience and variety of choice, as well as the benefits to business owners, make up just some of the bigger economic picture. The importance of shopping locally benefits the long-term success of any community’s downtown offerings and can make the difference between a stagnant town center and one that thrives with activity.

“It’s important to shop local,” Wirth said. “We all want a vibrant downtown community. When people shop local, they are voting with their wallets and making dreams come true for the business owner.”

Just as important, the consumer benefits by having the opportunity to purchase unique items, she added. “There is a higher propensity of finding something unique while providing economic growth in the community. We pride ourselves on providing a personalized experience. We know the owner, remember what you like, and the money is going to a person, not a faceless corporation. We offer a higher level of customer experience.”

Claudia Pazmany, executive director of the Amherst Area Chamber of Commerce, echoed Wirth’s sentiments on how critical supporting local business owners can be to a community’s success.

“They create the fabric of our community. Entrepreneurship is soaring since the pandemic, and as a result, Amherst alone has an array of new retail offerings and many new restaurants and food establishments,” Pazmany said. “When you support local, you are directly investing in positive social and economic impact. We developed our Amherst Area Gift Card program to showcase local and remind our community that these small businesses should be your first place to turn for gift giving.”

For our annual Shop Local Gift Guide, BusinessWest offers up 18 such options, whether you’re looking for a physical gift to wrap up, a service, or an always-welcome gift card.

Arts Unlimited Gift Gallery
25 College St., South Hadley
(413) 532-7047
Arts Unlimited was founded with one goal in mind: to provide customers with a high-quality, smart, and reliable gift shop. Offerings include a wide variety of art, accessories, and decorations, and gifts for birthdays, retirements, weddings, holidays, and more.

The Baker’s Pin
34 Bridge St., Northampton
(413) 586-7978
This extensive kitchen store carries a wide range of cookware, cutlery, electric devices, bakeware, kitchen tools, home goods, cookbooks, and food products as well. But it also offers an array of cooking classes, both online and in person, exploring different foods and techniques appropriate for the season.
Berkshirecat Records
63 Flansburg Ave., Dalton
(413) 212-3874
Berkshirecat Records is an independent record store located inside the Stationery Factory building, selling quality vintage and new vinyl records of classic rock, blues, jazz, psychedelic, garage rock, folk, indie, pop, and metal recordings.

The Bookstore and Get Lit Wine Bar
11 Housatonic St., Lenox
(413) 637-3390
The Bookstore, a fixture in Lenox for more than 40 years, was actually born in the neighboring town of Stockbridge, in the living room of a small rented house behind an alley that housed a then little-known café that later came to be known as Alice’s Restaurant. The bar is open whenever the bookstore is, and the bookstore stays open later some nights when the bar is open as well.

The Closet
79 Cowls Road, Amherst
(413) 345-5999
The Closet’s mission goes beyond connecting shoppers to the perfect black dress or favorite pair of shoes. Environmentally conscious, the shop wants to do its part to prevent clothing from being thrown away. Buying previously loved apparel stops the further use of natural resources and prevents clothing from wasting away in landfills.

Fresh Fitness Training Center/Fresh Cycle
320 College Highway, Southwick
(413) 998-3253
Fresh Fitness is a new, full-service, state-of-the-art gym with brand-new equipment and training for all fitness levels, from beginner to advanced, and is located in the same building that houses Fresh Cycle, one of the region’s premier indoor cycle studios, with more than 25 classes per week led by certified instructors.

Glow Studio Suites
2260 Westfield St., West Springfield
(413) 579-8455
Glow Studio Suites features individual beauty experts in one location. Walk in the door and find a lash artist, nail technician, esthetician, and injector. In addition, spray tan and waxing services are available.

Highlands Cards and Gifts
303A Springfield St., Agawam
(413) 315-3442
Highlands Card and Gifts features a large selection of Irish and Celtic products, Irish knit sweaters, and Irish saps year round, as well as Celtic jewelry, Emmett glassware, Irish and Celtic themed sweatshirts and tees, wool capes, handbags, mugs, teapots, wall hangings, lamps, Irish foods, and much more.

Julie Nolan Jewelry
40 Main St., Amherst
(413) 270-6221
Julie Nolan’s work blends traditional techniques of wax carving, diamond setting, and goldsmithing with a modern sensibility for design and composition. She sells her own handcrafted, one-of-a-kind heirloom pieces by hand in her studio and boutique, alongside a curated selection of home and gift items by Western Mass. makers.

Pilgrim Candle
36 Union Ave., Westfield
(413) 562-2635
Pilgrim Candle Co. opened its doors in 1992 and expanded its already-busy operation in 2000 by acquiring Main Street Candlery. In 2007, Pilgrim expanded into private-label manufacturing. Since its first sale more than 30 years ago, Pilgrim Candle has developed a high-quality line of scented candles for candle lovers all around the world.

Pioneer Valley Food Tours
(413) 320-7700
This enterprise creates walking food tours that explore local flavors from Northampton and around the region. It also creates gift boxes sourced from the region’s fields and farms, as well as Pioneer Valley picnic baskets of selections ready to bring on an outdoor adventure. Choose a pre-set tour itinerary, or create a custom tour to suit your tastes.
Pottery Cellar
77 Mill St., Westfield
(413) 642-5524
Located in the Mill at Crane Pond, the Pottery Cellar offers the largest selection of authentic Boleslawiec pottery in New England. From holiday-themed seasonal pieces to full dining sets, Pottery Cellar is a regional destination for authentic Polish pottery.

80 Capital Dr., West Springfield
(413) 737-6223
Renew.Calm offers an array of both medically based and luxurious spa treatments, with services including skin care, therapeutic massage, nail care, body treatments, yoga, hair removal, makeup, and lashes. Multi-treatment packages make great gifts.
The Shot Shop
722 Bliss Road, Longmeadow
(413) 561-7468
The Shot Shop medical rejuvenation spa offers medical rejuvenation treatments for a wide variety of needs. Anyone feeling run down and tired, noticing visible signs of aging, or with other concerns that need to be addressed may find a medical rejuvenation treatment here that will help.

Springfield Thunderbirds
45 Bruce Landon Way, Springfield
(413) 739-4625
A great deal for big-time hockey fans and folks who simply enjoy a fun night out with the family, Thunderbirds games are reasonably priced entertainment in Springfield’s vibrant downtown. The AHL franchise plays home games through April at the MassMutual Center, with a constant stream of promotions.

Springfield Wine Exchange
1500 Main St., Springfield
(413) 733-2171
Located on the ground floor of downtown Tower Square, the Springfield Wine Exchange offers customers local select craft beers and wines imported from around the world, providing a wide array of options for any occasion.

Visual Changes Salon
100 Shaker Road, East Longmeadow
(413) 525-1825
With more than 30 years dedicated to all dimensions of the hair industry, salon owner Mark Maruca is widely respected for his innovative approach hair styling. Services and products are individualized to suit client needs.

Zen’s Toyland
803 Williams St., Longmeadow
(413) 754-3654
Zen’s Toyland sells a variety of items ranging from baby teethers to adult puzzles, including high-quality, unique items that aren’t available elsewhere. All the toys are handpicked, and the shop also has a playroom for children to ‘test drive’ items.

Shop Local

Serving Up a New Reality

Peter Rosskothen

Peter Rosskothen says banquet facilities have had to become more selective about which events they take on.

For an events and catering industry devastated by the pandemic in 2020 and still hampered in 2021, this past year was certainly reason to celebrate.

“It’s been an incredibly strong year post-COVID,” said Seth Mias, owner of Seth Mias Catering in Leeds. “We had quite a few people making up for postponements, and a really robust season overall.”

The problem, said Mias and others we spoke with, is that it can be difficult to meet that demand due to a workforce crunch that has hit this sector hard.

“The challenge is staffing, obviously — getting people to come back to work — and supply-chain issues,” he noted. “Honestly, we were able to work through all that and had a really good season. To me, it seemed like clients were gracious and understanding about some of the challenges we’re facing as opposed to other years, like when certain products were unavailable.”

Peter Rosskothen has faced some of those realities as well, but said the Holyoke businesses he owns — including the Log Cabin, Delaney House, and Log Rolling Catering — have weathered them well.

“It’s been an above-average year — actually, a very good year,” he told BusinessWest. “Business has been very strong. Attendance to events is a little lower than it used to be, but the quantity of events, and the quality of events, has been better.

“The world is different,” he added. “We are much more focused on smart events for us. So we’re not giving stuff away, we’re charging more, and we’re being selective in the process to make sure we have staff and the ability to do something right.”

That selectiveness forced by workforce realities has changed the entire event industry quite a bit, Rosskothen added. “We just don’t say yes to everything anymore.”

Peg Boxold, owner of Elegant Affairs Catering in Springfield, has had to become more selective as well. “Coming out of the pandemic, we’ve got business, no problem, but we don’t have the staff. My staff have other jobs, just like the rest of the world. So we do what we can.”

During one past holiday season, she recalled, the company had a couple of days with 12 different events at different venues. “But now I have to think twice about doing two parties in one day, depending on whether I have staff. Also, it’s tough sometimes getting product for the kitchen, so if I don’t get the menu soon enough, I’ve got to hunt for the product. It’s not an easy world out there, and the profit margin is so much tighter now; we’ve had to go up on prices. It’s a new world.”

Like others we spoke with, Boxold said turning down business is simply a matter of not taking on a job she may not be equipped, because of staffing, to do well; she noted that she’s built up a reputation over more than three decades for quality events, and won’t risk that on understaffed bookings.

“I’ve worked too hard for too many years to jeopardize everything now for something I know I’m not going to be able to handle.”

“I had one lady call in September; she wanted a lunch on a Wednesday for 200 people, a plated meal. I said, ‘I can do a buffet setup the day before, but I don’t have the staff for plated.’ She wanted to be served, so I said, ‘sorry, I can’t.’ I’m not going to take something I don’t feel comfortable with in terms of quality of product and quality of service. I’ve worked too hard for too many years to jeopardize everything now for something I know I’m not going to be able to handle.

Even the events that do go on are more challenging, Boxold added. “Last week, I had a Thursday fashion-show luncheon in Wilbraham for 90 people. I begged, borrowed, and stole people to make it happen.”


Picking and Choosing

Rosskothen said he expects the upcoming holiday season to be a bit slower than in past, pre-pandemic years.

“I haven’t read any statistics, but my instinct tells me corporate is still slow to do group parties. So we see them, but we don’t see them to the level we used to. Every Friday and Saturday is booked, but if you go back a few years, we used to be booked five days a week. So it’s a little different than in previous years, and again, the selective process of picking and choosing the business that fits our company also gets rid of a few.”

The Log Cabin won’t be hosting group holiday parties this year, he explained, noting that the Delaney House, with its smaller rooms, is being used for smaller parties, while the Log Cabin focuses on big events.

And events are ‘big’ in different ways, Rosskothen noted. Wedding attendance is down, from an average around 170 years ago to 120 today, partly due to today’s marrying couples being slightly older. But the average per-head charge is up.

“This generation knows what they want; they’re very specific about their wishes, and it pushes the check average up,” he explained, noting that, once they book the event and set their guest list, they’re willing to pay more for certain things. “Prime rib used to be included in all our prices. Now, if you want prime rib, its $8 a head more. But the people who want it select it.”

The biggest challenge dealing with customers is that the price of everything is up these days.

“When somebody’s booked a long time in advance, which happens mostly on the wedding side of the industry, it’s very frustrating. There’s a budget established, and you kind of have a vision, but if you planned a wedding two years ago, you’re paying 20% more than you were planning. And that’s a big jump, especially if somebody’s on a budget. But there’s no choice; our costs are easily 20% higher versus pre-pandemic.”

For the most part, people have been understanding, Rosskothen added.

“I think most understand, though once in a while we get questions — ‘why this is $5 more a head?’ We go through the process and explain it, but I’d say 99% of the people kind of expect it.”

Mias agreed that this holiday season seems a bit slower than what he’s seen in the past. “I’m booking a solid base now, and just looking to do some fill-in booking at this point.”

Over the years, his business has morphed into a wedding-reception-focused enterprise, with those events gradually shifting from 10% to 15% of his bookings to around 85% today. “But we’re still doing corporate events, retirements, funerals, things like that.”

Many clients postponed events during the pandemic, he noted, which led to a scramble to fit them in with new business once COVID restrictions eased; only a few clients couldn’t make a new date work and had to go elsewhere.


Out and About

Rosskothen wonders how his industry will be affected by a trend he’s observed in the younger generation of not wanting to go out as much, and not valuing networking as much as young professionals used to. But he’s especially focused on economic trends.

“I think 2023 is going to be very interesting; I don’t know where it’s going to go. Are we really going into recession? I think people are going to contract and be careful. If the national climate changes, that’s going to affect us. So I’m a little worried about 2023, I really am.”

Still, he added, “it’s too early to tell. We might get out of this. There’s a lot of money in the economy, and a lot of companies have saved money, so it will be interesting to see how that plays out.”

Most people these days are not afraid of COVID when it comes to gatherings, he added. Boxold agreed, but noted that Elegant Affairs has COVID-friendly, individually packaged meal options as well. “For a lot of companies, it’s important for them to be able to stay in business and make sure everything is COVID-friendly, so we can do something for their employees but keep it within the parameters of COVID-friendliness.”

As she noted earlier, demand for events of all kinds is there. Meeting that demand with steady staff, however, is a persistent challenge.

“Hopefully it changes somewhere down the road,” Boxold said. “I’m assuming people have to go back to work at some point; they have to pay the bills. I don’t know whether they’re opting for other jobs or still sitting at home. I just can’t get a good read on everything. But I think it’s coming back, and that people will be coming back to work.”

Mias said 2022 was one of his strongest years — if not financially, then with the quality of events.

“Looking at the product we were able to put out with all the challenges, I thought it was a great year,” he added. “Hopefully the next few weeks continue on that path, and 2023 is looking just as good. We keep plugging along.”


Joseph Bednar can be reached at [email protected]

Shop Local Special Coverage

Local Call

Michelle Wirth, left, with Lexi Walters Wright

Michelle Wirth, left, with Lexi Walters Wright, owner of High Five Books, one of the many area companies now showcased on the Feel Good Shop Local platform.

If anyone needed any proof concerning the importance of buying local to the regional economy, Michelle Wirth said, it came during the pandemic.

As consumers were forced to shop from their computers, except for what they could find at the supermarket or the big-box stores allowed to stay open, they resorted to Amazon and, for the most part, the national brands with which they were familiar.

As a result, a good number of smaller retailers were just not able to carry on and had to close their doors, putting some people out of work as they did so. Many of those storefronts are still vacant, impacting vibrancy on Main Street — and many other streets as well. Meanwhile, the jobs created by those stores, and the local spending generated by them — on everything from marketing to signs; electricity to office supplies — have been lost.

“During COVID, all of us were relying on online shopping more than ever before — we were relying on Instacart or some of the big names, Amazon, Nordstrom’s, L.L. Bean, Walmart … and when we could finally raise our heads and we were comfortable leaving our houses and driving around the neighborhood, I noticed that a lot of the stores that I had frequented prior to COVID were closed or closing,” said Wirth, who said this harsh reality was one of many factors that led her to launch Feel Good Shop Local, or FGSL, as it’s called, an online e-commerce platform that makes it easier for area residents and businesses to find local retailers, and much easier to do business with them.

In a word, the site — feelgoodshoplocal.com — ‘connects’ consumers with local retailers, said Wirth, adding that these connections benefit consumers, retailers, and communities alike.

“The vitality of our local communities is important. How do you ensure the vitality of our local communities? By supporting our local neighbors, the local stores, things that are happening in our backyard.”

There are now more than 20 businesses on the site, including Lenny Underwood’s Upscale Socks; High Five Books in Florence; Hallie’s Comet Fine Jewelry; Feather & Bloom, a florist, plant, and gift shop in Suffield, Conn.; Relax.Rinse.Repeat, a Westfield-based provider of organic health and beauty products; and many others. Upon visiting a participating shop, one can learn about it, see products, read reviews, and — this is the ultimate goal — place orders (more on all this later).

The Feel Good Shop Local site is one of the listings in our annual Buy Local Holiday Gift Guide, which includes a lengthy list of gift suggestions and places to find them starting on page XX. Wirth and others we spoke with said that the holidays are a good time — although any time is a good time — to remind people of the importance of shopping locally for all those reasons mentioned above.

In many ways, that message is resonating, said Hannah Rechtschaffen, director of Placemaking at the Mill District in North Amherst, a mixed-use community that now features more than 130 housing units and an eclectic array of small shops. She noted that shopping with local retailers has become a priority for some, and even a political statement for others.

show off some of the many items at the store.

From left, Shauna Wallace, interim manager of the Mill District General Store; Hannah Rechtschaffen, director of Placemaking for the Mill District; and Tim O’Brien, senior Communications director for WD Cowls Inc., show off some of the many items at the store.

“People really find that, for them, shopping locally is meaningful beyond just the fact that it’s nice to go in and touch something and connect with someone,” she said. “They also feel a point of pride shopping locally, giving a gift that has a story they heard right from the artist that made it.

“It becomes this sense that people are part of the recovery,” Rechtschaffen went on. “And I think that this is both real and important. At places like this, people are able to come out and shop and meet the store owner, meet the people working there, meet people making things … it’s just a nicer experience and gives everyone a sense of recovery and reclaiming things.”

Melissa Peavay, marketing manager for Grove Real Estate, owner of the Longmeadow Shops, agreed. She said shopping local has, indeed, become a priority for many consumers, especially after the lessons — and the casualties — of the pandemic.

But she noted that ‘shopping local’ is a broad term. It means buying from local vendors, obviously, she said, but it also means buying from a local outlet of a national chain, one that is providing jobs and contributing to the vibrancy of a downtown, a mall, a shopping plaza (like the Longmeadow Shops), or a community.

“Shopping with people who own their own business and live locally is wildly important,” she said. “But it’s very important to come out and shop local, even if it’s a national chain; it’s local people who work at these stores.”


The Going Rate

There are two bathrooms in the General Store at the Mill District. One, very popular with children, features a jungle motif. The other one? Well, it features one-way glass on the entire wall facing the parking lot. Those using it can see out, but no one can see in.

“People really find that, for them, shopping locally is meaningful beyond just the fact that it’s nice to go in and touch something and connect with someone. They also feel a point of pride shopping locally, giving a gift that has a story they heard right from the artist that made it. It becomes this sense that people are part of the recovery.”

“Still, it can a little disconcerting or unnerving at first, but overall, it’s different, and it’s fun,” said Shauna Wallace, interim manager of the store, adding that the bathroom, said to be one of just a handful in the country with such one-way glass (the others are in tourist spots), has become a talking point. There’s even a sign on the property directing visitors to it that says “you have to go!”

While people might use this bathroom while visiting the store, and others at the Mill District, it is not the reason they go there, said Rechtschaffen, adding that their primary motivation is to find a unique mix of stores and shop locally. And the General Store provides maybe the best example of this.

It features thousands of different items, almost all of them from local vendors and artists: hand-made quilts from Night Sky Quilts in Amherst, maple syrup from Boyden Bothers Maple Syrup in Conway, dog treats from Berkshire Dog in Lanesboro, reclaimed cutting boards from Firefly Hollow in Leverett, local sauces and grocery items from the Kitchen Garden Farm in Sunderland … the list goes on.

Melissa Peavay

Melissa Peavay says the pandemic helped motivate many consumers to shop local.

As noted earlier, the General Store is just one of many small, locally owned shops in the Mill District. Others include the Closet, which offers vintage and ‘new to you’ clothing; Graze Craze, which offers customizable charcuterie boards and catering; the Lift Salon; Provisions, the Mill District Local Art Gallery; and many others. Collectively, they provide opportunities for people to find what they’re looking for, locate some unique gifts, and shop local in one spot.

It was this same objective that motivated Wirth to create the Feel Good Shop Local platform, which was sparked by the reality that local artists and retailers are simply not as visible as they would like to be.

“One of the reasons some people don’t shop local is because it’s hard — it’s time-consuming, especially if you’re a newcomer to the area, to find these places,” she said. “If you Google items, they don’t show up; if you Google ‘black sweater near me,’ you get the big-box stores, not the local stores. It’s a connection issue.”

Feel Good Shop Local was created to forge connections and enable people to shop at those stores when it’s convenient for them.

“As a mother of four, I’m shopping early in the morning and late at night, and, unfortunately, our local stores are not open at those hours,” Wirth said, adding that many people are similarly constrained by time.

But convenience is only part of the equation. The platform, which was launched during the Big E and is focused largely on gift giving, enables people to shop by recipient (everything from family members to pets; from teachers to co-workers), price, occasion, interest (from travel to wellness to pets — again), and values, everything from women-owned to BIPOC to ‘sustainable practices.’

Wirth considers the platform a classic win-win, or win-win-win, because it benefits consumers, local shops and artists, and communities across the region.

“The vitality of our local communities is important,” she said. “How do you ensure the vitality of our local communities? By supporting our local neighbors, the local stores, things that are happening in our backyard.”

As noted, 25 stores now participate on the platform, with another 25 or 30 in the pipeline, and as the holidays approach, Wirth expects interest in the site to rise. Participating businesses pay a 15% commission on each sale to FGSH, a lower rate than most other sites of this type.

The Mill District General Store is one of those businesses. Click on that site, and one can find a few dozen different items with the store’s own label, including spicy pickles, cracked peppercorn dressing, jams, salsa, and ‘Moonshine Barbecue Sauce.’

Wirth said the platform is essentially just getting started and is still “learning and growing.” She expects that as word of mouth spreads about its ability to make connections and generate sales, it will draw more local shops and artisans.

“The intention behind this is to create community — a community of sellers and a community of like-minded shoppers that are supporting these sellers in a way that is convenient for everyone.”

Meanwhile, with the holidays just a few weeks away, anticipation is building for the season, which is increasingly clouded by questions about the economy, recession, inflation, and the impact of all that on spending.

Amid these concerns, there is, as noted earlier, growing encouragement of efforts to shop local and support businesses looking to make a full recovery from the pandemic.

Peavay said 2020 and 2021 were very difficult times for most all retailers, and some, as Wirth noted, were not able to successfully pivot and navigate their way through the whitewater.

The Longmeadow Shops saw a few casualties, she said, adding quickly that these vacancies have been filled, and the outdoor shopping plaza is now fully leased.

It features several locally owned stores, including Caren & Company, a clothing store; In Chic Shoenique, a merger of two stores, In Chic and Shoenique; Batch Ice Cream; Delaney’s Market; Max Burger; Posto; and the Shot Shop, a salon and spa.

In addition, it features a number of national chains, from J.Crew to Ann Taylor to the Gap, that provide jobs and contribute to the overall vibrancy of the complex and the town itself.

“If people don’t come out and stroll our sidewalks and shop in our stores, those national chains will leave,” Peavay said. “And then, people are disappointed; you always hear after someone closes, ‘I loved that store … why did it close?’ It’s super important to shop locally owned stores and to shop local, at the Longmeadow Shops or any shopping center, if you find that shopping center convenient.”


Bottom Line

There’s a ticker of sorts on the Feel Good Shop Local Site. It keeps a running track of the money spent at participating businesses through the site, under the header ‘Money Invested in the Local Economy.’

At present, that number is still in the five digits as the site continues to build visibility and a presence across the region. In time, it will go much higher, said Wirth, adding that, beyond this number, the site is creating those all-important connections that make it much easier for consumers to shop local first.

When they do, it is truly a win-win-win scenario.


George O’Brien can be reached at [email protected]