When most of us are hungry and can’t possibly fathom another delicious meal at the cafe we flock to places like Chipotle or order an enormous pizza.
When we need the essentials for life such as soap and cheetos, we all jump in a car and make one of those group trips to Walmart.
You know what I’m talking about; one of those groups of five people trips where you see at least two more similarly arranged groups from FSC.
To me, this gets routine and honestly a little weird. I escape school to not see the people I see constantly on campus. I want to shop for my shampoo and eat my sandwich in peace.
As some of you may or may not know, I am from Lakeland. Yes, I’m a “townie.” Now that you’re done laughing, I’ll proceed.
Growing up in Lakeland, I hated it. Now after spending the majority of my life here it holds a very special place in my heart. This happened because I opened up my eyes to the many great businesses that are in this town.
Don’t get me wrong, I am always willing to go for some Chipotle, but I find these trips to be unsatisfactory.
Let me explain, when I go to a local business there are three factors that set it apart: where my money goes, the atmosphere and the people.
We all have some sense of pride for the place we grew up. We also all have a sense of pride for the town in which we attended college.
You are spending a good four years of your life there so why not support the town that has been a part of your life. Businesses like Taco Bell and Walmart are billion dollar companies who you mean absolutely nothing to.
At a local business you are usually given the customer service you deserve. The businesses often take the initiative to have a conversation with you or at least make sure your glass is always full and that your meal is to your satisfaction.
If you become a regular they often ask how school or your life is going (cough cough Mitchell’s Coffee House).
I like knowing that I am paying for quality customer service and a pleasant experience. I also like knowing that my money is going to support people who have often taken on a business because of their compassion for not only their city but the people in their city.
I would much rather have my money go to local business that has worked their hardest to be successful than to a million dollar corporation who could care less about their customers as long as they are raking in the cash.
Have you ever noticed how every Moe’s, Starbucks and Target look the same?
If I’m going to make the effort to go somewhere I want all of my senses to be pleased. The atmosphere of a restaurant or store has as much impact as the products you purchase.
I would much rather go to a cozy little coffee shop or café than a food venue where I feel rushed or grossed out to sit in their chairs.
Local businesses tend to take more pride in their look because they aim to give their customers the ultimate experience.
I know you’re probably thinking “ I don’t need to make friends with the townspeople.” I’m not saying become besties with homeless men or Southeastern kids, but I am saying you would be surprised how a simple conversation with someone outside of FSC can impact your day.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had great conversations with an old couple who have been together 56 years,store-owners who know me by name and sometimes give me special deals or I was simply in talking to the right person at the right time and landed an internship. Great people are out there waiting to be met and waiting to meet you.
I guess this article is only fair if I tell you places to go since I’ve talked about them so much.
For food and or coffee try some of my favorites: Black & Brew, Mitchell’s Coffee, Palace Pizza, Fresco’s, Buttercup Cakes, Red Door, Fat Maggie’s and Il Forno.
For unique clothing and gifts I recommend 360 Unlimited, Boutique Greek, Brooke Pottery, Black Swan Bazaar, Hattie’s Branches and Mayzie’s.
You are spending four years in this town anyways so, why not venture out and explore the city you live in. I guarantee you while find new places you will love and won’t see nearly as many Mocs tee shirts.