Thinking Yogi

The intersection of two loves: yoga and writing.

How to keep your neighborhood independent

Posted by on in Off the Mat
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I like lists, especially numbered lists. But today when I was thinking about about concrete ways to keep our fabulous neighborhood independent, I could only come up with one thing each of us can do. I'm still going to number it.

1. Shop Local

If you don't want your strolls around the neighborhood to be punctuated by big box stores and chain restaurants, vote with your dollars. Yes, it may be easier to sit in your pajamas and click your way to the end of the shopping experience, but when you walk into a local, independent store you get so much more out of the experience and you give back to your neighborhood, too.

Being the sort of person who only buys new stuff when my old stuff has completely fallen apart, I admit that I was not quite looking forward to my holiday shopping spree yesterday. But when I headed down Lincoln Avenue, stepped through the doors of Timeless Toys, and was greeted by smiles and offers of help, I was so glad to be there rather than in front of my computer. Instead of clicking around and reading reviews by anonymous from TX, I was able to get specific suggestions for toys based on the ages and personalities of my children. Take that, Amazon.

At the Book Cellar, I was similarly pleasantly surprised at how quick and easy it was to find just the right gift when given guidance by friendly and knowledgeable employees. And I always find something unique and fun when I walk into Hanger 18, Enjoy, and Merz Apothecary. The kids and I are greeted warmly by name when we go to buy shoes at Piggy Toes.

I feel a sense of connection when I shop locally. I feel like a real human being as I ask for advice and touch the product I'm buying and maybe even find out how someone else's day is going. In this highly digital age, couldn't we all use more of that sort of activity? Doesn't it feel good to interact with people rather than technology?

Let's keep our fabulous Chicago neighborhoods cute and independent and unique. You can become a local activist each time you make a purchase. When you need to buy something, instead of thinking Target or Amazon first, think Lincoln Square, or Andersonville, or your neighborhood of choice. You may not think that your one purchase matters, but each time you set foot in local businesses, you are investing in your neighborhood, and taking a step to ensure that it doesn't become overrun with big, cold, chains.

As I wrapped up yesterday's local holiday shopping spree, piling up bags on my stroller, and stopping on my walk home to chat with neighbors I met along the way, I had a huge smile on my face. The wealth of independent local businesses are just one of the reasons I love Lincoln Square. I spend enough time with electronic devices in my work life. When I step away from the computer, I crave people, warmth, and unique experiences. Thanks, fabulous Lincoln Square small business owners, for providing just that!

Kerry is the Founder & Director of Bloom Yoga Studio, voted Best Yoga Studio in the Chicago Reader, Chicago Magazine, and Citysearch. As a practicing yogi, writer, and mother of three, Kerry is all about making the principles and philosophies of yoga real and accessible for day-to-day living. You can find Kerry on Google+.


  • Rebecca Sims Nichols:// Sims Nichols Wednesday, 14 December 2011

    Totally agree!

    I did my Christmas Shopping for my son at Timeless Toys and Hanger 18. I also live close to Hazel on Montrose, so will be stopping in there for a few extras! This is the first Christmas I've lived in Lincoln Square (or Chicago for that matter) and I really enjoyed doing my shopping locally.

  • Kerry Maiorca Wednesday, 14 December 2011

    So glad to hear I'm in good company, Rebecca! Welcome to Lincoln Square, I hope you have a wonderful holiday!

  • Carrie Waller Friday, 16 December 2011

    Kerry, enjoyed your column as always. It's good to be reminded of the impact we can make shopping locally. I agree, we do love the energy of our vibrant Lincoln Square with young and old walking about - it's good to support it and ensure it's longevity. Was sad to see Green Baby closing on Rockwell - even though I don't have little ones and didn't shop there, except for an occasional gift, we now face a potentially empty store front which brings nothing to the neighborhood.

  • Kerry Maiorca Friday, 16 December 2011

    Thanks for the note, Carrie. I'm glad you enjoyed the post!

    I am so sad that Little Green Baby is closing their storefront, too. I'm glad they'll continue to offer their products online, but it'll be sad to not have Kim's cheery storefront on the block. Hopefully another great neighbor moves in at some point.....

  • Karen Halverson Friday, 23 December 2011


    Enjoyed reading what you had to say! I too thoroughly enjoyed the energetic and knowledgable help at Book Cellar (as they shipped in a special request book next day for me!), Enjoy, Chopping Block & Marbles! I felt good shopping local and it was far more enjoyable than my many trips to local malls/shopping online, etc. That snickerdoodle cookie was also delicious from Book Cellar Cafe!

  • Kerry Maiorca Friday, 23 December 2011

    Thanks for the comment, Karen. I love hearing more Lincoln Square shopping success stories! We're so lucky to live in a neighborhood with character and personality, and it's nice to know that we can all do our part to keep these businesses bustling. Hope you and your family have a wonderful holiday and I'll see you in 2012, if not before!

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