Summer’s bounty still enjoyed

In my last post, The Best of Summer [at local farmer’s markets] I mentioned our own Hometown Market, which operated from the long weekend in May through to mid-October. Throughout the summer, anytime you made a purchase from a vendor, you filled out a ballot to win a gift basket with goodies to be donated by the merchants. I filled in my share of ballots and was absolutely delighted when my name was drawn as the winner on October 24.  You can see the draw being made on the Greater Napanee Hometown Market’s Facebook page.    In that photo, and another  one on the page, you can see that this was much more than a “gift basket.” In fact, what is shown in those photos is only a small sample of what I actually won!

I needed help getting everything to my car, and into the house! This was not just a basket. It was also a bag full and a box full of goodies—all hand-made and locally produced. After we’d marvelled at how much there was, and before we’d started enjoying some of these treats, my husband Jim assembled everything artistically for a photo that really shows the generosity and diversity of the merchants who donated so many wonderful items.

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Photo by Jim Peets. All rights reserved. 

My family and I will be enjoying the bounty from the summer and all of these wonderful products for a long time. I cannot thank these merchants enough. What I can and will do is continue to support them, and I encourage everyone to support their local merchants–at the markets and in the stores.

They are the heart of all of our hometowns.

In Napanee, we don’t have to wait until next summer to support the market. The merchants are holding an Indoor Market on Saturday, November 19 at the Strathcona Paper Centre recreation centre. This will be a great time to start–or finish–your holiday shopping, and pick up some goodies for those holiday parties.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The best of summer at local Farmers’ Markets

Summer may be over but the best of summer is now at our local farmers’ markets.

You’ve no doubt seen those signs and bumper stickers that say, “If you ate today, thank a farmer.” So now you can really thank a farmer for the food you are enjoying by visiting a local farmers’ market. 

This is the best time of year to shop at the markets! Everything from apples to zucchini is in abundance, and you are getting the freshest produce available. Some markets carry not only locally produce but bring in the best from other parts of the province like the Holland Marsh and the Niagara region, so you really have a lot of juicy choices.

In addition to the freshest fruits and vegetables, and other foods like jams, jellies, pickles, maple syrup, and baked goods, you will find a variety of other locally produced items including jewellery, clothing, woodworking, and other artistic creations. Some markets even have local musicians on hand to entertain you. 

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Of course shopping locally is always important, and there are so many good reasons to do so. I’ve talked about that here before. Soon, it will be time to think about our holiday shopping, and we need to avoid those mega-sales in the mega-malls and stores. It’s so important to shop locally, especially during the holidays and the quieter winter months.  Some farmers’ markets have an Indoor Market on special days, or all year round. Check the markets in your community, so that you can continue to support our farmers and local producers for all of their hard work, and thank them.

There are a number of markets in this area, and you’ll find them almost any day of the week. So far, I haven’t found a market that operates on Mondays, but if you know of one, please let me know. Be sure to check out your municipality for your local markets, and if you’re out on a road trip and happen to see a market—stop in! I haven’t been able to get to all of these markets, so I’ve only shared a few photos here. 

Farmers’ markets are an important part of our communities and another great way to shop locally. There are only a few days left at the outdoor markets, so mark your calendars!

Here’s a list of the markets in this area. 

Napanee

Home Town Market

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Market Square, behind Town Hall

124 John Street, Napanee

Every second Saturday, May to October, 9 a.m. To 2 p.m.

Indoor Market, November 19, Strathcona Paper Centre

Kingston

Kingston Public Market

Springer Market Square (City Hall)

216 Ontario Street, Kingston

Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays, 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. (some may come earlier and stay later)

April to November

Memorial Centre Farmers Market

303 York Street

Sundays, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Outdoors May to October

Indoors November to May

CFB Kingston

11 Navy Way

Wednesdays, 4 to 6:30 p.m.

Queen’s University

Stouffer Library, Union St./University Av

Wednesdays, 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Community Harvest

11 Weller Av

Wednesdays, 2 p.m. to 5 p.m.

Westbrook Market

3526 Princess St

Wednesdays, 2 p.m. to 6 p.m.

Odessa Farmers’ Market

Lions’ Club Fairgrounds (Hwy 2 and County Rd 6)

Fridays, 2 p.m. to 6 p.m.

Yarker Farmers Market

2 Mill St (across from Firehall)

1st and 3rd Saturdays, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Frontenac Farmers Market

Prince Charles Public School, 6875 Highway 38, Verona

Saturdays, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Sharbot Lake Farmers Market

Public Beach

Saturdays, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Bath Sunday Market

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Centennial Park

Sundays, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Downtown Belleville Farmers Market

Market Square, City Hall

Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays, 7 a.m to 6 p.m.

Year round

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Get to the Heart–Go Downtown

At the heart of any small town is its downtown business community. In some places, it can be a pretty sad place to be, as much of the business might have been drawn away to the larger mall or Big Box stores usually located closer to the highway or on the outskirts of town, which means a lot of folks never even make it into the downtown core.

While Napanee has a vibrant  business community in its “north end”, the heart, to me, is downtown.

If you haven’t visited Downtown Napanee for a while, it’s time you did. There is such an array of stores offering just about everything you need. Whether you’re looking for the latest fashions, something good to eat, or just somewhere to sit with a cup of coffee and chat with a friend, you’ll find it downtown. There’s even a health and fitness studio in case you enjoyed a few too many sweets over the holidays and those new clothes don’t fit as well as they should. There are also places to chill out with some yoga, and a centre to take care of your health. The Napanee Community Health Centre’s new home is under construction and is scheduled to open in 2016.

The Downtown Napanee Business Association (BIA) works hard all year to make Downtown Napanee “the place to be.” Judging from the crowds that has turned out to some of these events, the hard work has been appreciated.

During the year, there are many events and attractions supported by the BIA, including:

The Hometown Market (an initiative of the Town of Greater Napanee)

The Scarecrow Festival

Shop the Neighbourhood

and

The Downtown Shopping Party (started by and organized by Cat and Jefta Monster, Starlet Boutique.) 

The next event will be the Winter Chill Festival that is actually moving uptown this year to the Strathcona Paper Centre. It is being held on Feb 15, to coincide with Family Day, so there will be one great day of indoor and outdoor activities. Here’s a link for  more details.  

The most noticeable attraction downtown right now is The Big Bright Light Show that is done in partnership with the Town of Greater Napanee, the downtown merchants and the BIA. 

 

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Photo, Courtesy of Kathy Medd,Downtown Napanee BIA

In addition to the stores being lit up, there are also lights along the river at Springside Park.  This year’s show has been expanded so that even more of our downtown core is lit up, including lights along the river at Springside Park.  Of course, since it’s not on until later in the day, you’ll want to head down early to make sure you can visit the stores while they are open—although some stores have had extended hours, and many are open on Thursday evenings until 8 pm.

The BIA is mandated by the Town of Greater Napanee to promote and encourage local businesses by attracting the residents and visitors to the areas shops, other attractions and enterprises, by means of beautification, revitalization and special promotions.” (From the BIA website) You can learn more about the workings of the BIA by contacting its administrator, Kathy Medd by email, or by giving her a call at (613) 354-9508. You could drop into the office in the Napanee Business Centre at 47 Dundas Street E., but Kathy is often out meeting with the local business owners or promoting the latest activity.

If it’s been a while since you’ve visited Downtown Napanee, don’t you think it’s time you headed back?

 

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Shop locally–especially during the holidays

On Saturday, November 28, there was a special “promotion” encouraging everyone to “shop local.” Bad grammar aside—it should be “shop locally”—that’s a good concept not just for the holiday shopping season now in full swing, but for all times.

I’ve written about the reasons for supporting local business here in an early column from April 2014. So I won’t rehash those. What I will add is that supporting your local merchants is especially important at this time of year. Let’s face it: we all shop more in November, December and January than at other times of the year. We may spend more than we’d planned, or we may choose to consciously spend less. Either way, we need to make smart decisions about our gift-buying as we are all trying to, as the old saying goes, “do more with less.”

Knowing that this is the biggest time for sales, the merchants rely on our shopping dollars now more than ever, and they work hard to bring you in to their stores. But you don’t have to hit the “mega-mall” There are other alternatives.

From mid-November until Christmas, almost every school, church, and community organization sponsors some type of “market.” These are great ways to pick up hand-made crafts, home-made goodies, and other specialty items that you will not find in the stores.

While those may satisfy some of the folks on your “to buy for” list, you won’t find everything there—and so you have to go to the stores. Don’t be fooled by those sales in the mega-stores While you may find something cheaper than at a smaller, locally operated store, in the long run, you wind up spending more money, and spending way more time—a commodity that is in short supply these days it seems. So, you wind up saving neither. There may be some “chain” stores in small communities that carry the same merchandise as the stores in the larger communities, and the local staff can bring in what you need, when you need it.

You can make your shopping time more efficient, and your budget go further, by seeing what the local merchants have, asking them if they can get what you need, and then spending less time getting it all.

Here’s the biggest downside to not shopping locally: When you need your local store—they won’t be there anymore. They couldn’t stay in business, competing with the “mega-store”, and so the owners had to close up shop, putting themselves and their staff out of work—and now they can’t support other local businesses, nor can they continue to support your community.

So before you head to the mega-mall or even the mega-store, why not check out the smaller local stores first? Chances are, you’ll find what you’re looking for—and maybe even find some unique things you didn’t even know someone on your “shopping list” would love to have.

Then, in January, when all of those “mega-sales” are happening, you can quietly and calmly continue supporting your local merchants and let them know that you will be supporting them not just before and after Christmas—but all year round.

Do you shop locally? Join the conversation and tell us what is so great about your local merchants.

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Great things happen at the 55 Plus Activity Centre

If you read my other blog, With Humour and Hope: The Only Way to Live, then you know that I grew up in Toronto. (I’ve just done a post on “Being a Tourist in My Old Hometown”) I lived there until 1978 when my husband Jim was transferred to Sudbury with his job as a parks planner with Ontario Parks, in the Ministry of Natural Resources.

Sudbury was a great place to live, and both of our sons were born there. We moved again in 1984, due to a change in Jim’s job, this time to Prescott, a small town on the St. Lawrence River. The boys went to some great schools, and we enjoyed our time there—and then it was time to move again. This move brought us here, to Napanee, where we have made our home for the past 22 years. We love it here. The town’s motto is “Greater for Many Reasons.” Whether you like the slogan or not, you have to admit, The Town of Greater Napanee is a pretty great place, with some wonderful local businesses and organizations.

One organization especially close to my heart is the Seniors Outreach Services (SOS) and its 55 Plus Activity Centre. Take a peak at the website, or go and chat with some of the staff or volunteers, and you’ll see why it is so special. I spend four mornings a week there, co-leading a Nordic Pole Walking (NPW) group, teaching a creative writing class, and leading a strength training class. There are fitness classes, art classes, textile groups, and too many programs to mention here—but there is definitely something for everyone. Not only am I keeping active and improving my mental and physical health, I’ve made some great friends!

My co-leader for the NPW group, Lillie Normile, is also a member of the creative writing group. Lillie has written about the NPW group and the chair yoga class she takes on her blog, Notes from Napanee.

Grace Vanderzande, a.k.a. “Buttons” is also a member of the writing and the NPW group, and she’s written about the walking group on her blog, Buttons Thoughts, and in her column for the Napanee Guide newspaper.

I consider these women and all of the women who are in my groups, friends, even though I may not know some as well as others. We share laughs, and hugs—just like friends do. We are always supportive and friendly, and when someone has been away for a while, we welcome them back with a hug. You see a lot of that in our centre.

The SOS/55 Plus Activity Centre is just one of the many great things in the County of Lennox & Addington (L&A), and the Town of Greater Napanee.

I have fond memories of all of the places I’ve lived, and there is a saying, “Grow where you are planted.” I definitely have grown here, and I’m very happy to be planted in Napanee.

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Every Week Should Be Local Food Week

Although it was officially “Local Food Week” in mid-June, every week should be Local Food Week!

It’s easy here in Napanee and Lennox & Addington County to find locally produced foods at some really interesting places. Over the next little while I’ll feature a few for you to check out. Some are within walking distance, while others will give you an excuse for a “country drive.”

Here are two of the newest places in Downtown Napanee:

Seasons Fine Foods & Cookery School

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAPhoto: Captions Communications

At Seasons Chef Pat offers freshly prepared foods as well as foods for you to pick up and prepare yourself. If you’re not sure how to prepare certain dishes, just ask Pat—or attend one of her Cookery School classes. You will learn a new culinary skill and you’ll have lots of fun!

Seasons cooking classPhoto courtesy: Seasons Fine Foods & Cookery School

There is something for everyone with these classes. Give Seasons a call at 613-354-7557 to register. Just like they say on those TV ads–call today, don’t delay. These classes fill up fast. You can find details about the next class here. Of course you can also register when you drop in to pick up something for lunch or dinner.

In the store you can select from fresh or frozen foods, all prepared by Chef Pat and her team, made from seasonal foods—and according to what Pat feels like cooking. Pat believes in cooking wholesome foods, and educating yourself on how to best prepare those. Her in-store motto says it all, “Organic—or as our grandparents called it, Food.” “I support our local producers. I profess slow food. I believe that education is the key to good health and long life.”

If you have special dietary needs, don’t feel left out. You’ll find a variety of gluten-free foods, and other specialty items, including specialty chocolates.  There is a wide array of other specialties as well: unique pastas and sauces, meats, artisan cheese and breads, and much more–and much of it locally grown or produced. What could be better?

Seasons grocery shelvesPhoto courtesy: Seasons Fine Foods & Cookery School

Stop in and meet Pat and her friendly staff. Seasons Fine Foods & Cookery School, located at 6 Dundas Street W. The store is open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday to Saturday. There is also a friendly “shopping service” where your groceries will be gathered up for you and delivered free of charge within the Napanee town limits. Now that’s a great way to get some local food!

Just around the corner from Seasons at 6 Mill St. W is the Heritage Harvest Grocery Store. (The two addresses being at 6…could be by sheer coincidence—but maybe 6 is a lucky number.)

Owners Mark and Krysta, [and sometimes their little guy “Jonesy”] are happy to greet you and help with your shopping needs.

heritageharvest familyPhoto courtesy: Heritage Harvest Grocery Store

“Our goal is to provide the best food from our region in one central place. Heritage Harvest will provide local, organic and classic grocery products,” says Krysta. The store is bright and spacious, and their unique shopping baskets and bags harken back to a simpler time. There are no “big orders” here. Just get what you need for today—enjoy it—and come again tomorrow. (Well, you’ll have to shop for two days on Saturdays, because the store is closed on Sunday.) Every other day, the store is open from 10 am until 7 pm.

Here you will find local produce, meat, eggs, dairy products (including some amazing goat and sheep milk cheese), and a variety of groceries. There is also a selection of gluten-free products, including some frozen breads.  If you don’t feel like doing much preparation, “Grill Master Mark” will do it for you.

Grill Master MarkPhoto courtesy: Heritage Harvest Grocery Store

The deli features breads, meat, cheese, fruit, and drinks. Let Heritage Harvest Grocery Store put together the perfect picnic. They just might let you use one of their lovely baskets. Don’t forget the chocolate. Mark and Krysta have sourced some good organic, fair trade chocolate–I don’t how it got left out of the picture.

heritageharvest varietyPhoto courtesy: Heritage Harvest Grocery Store

Having these two stores recently opened in Napanee is a boon for those who live and work downtown, or close to downtown. They won’t really compete with the “big” grocery stores in town—and they don’t want or need to. If you are looking for a unique shopping experience that will make every week Local Food Week, check out these specialty grocery stores. You won’t be disappointed.

I will be profiling other local food suppliers and great places to eat locally, so stay tuned! Do you have a favourite food place in Napanee or L&A County? Leave a comment and let me know.

 

 

 

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Home Business Matters Too

It’s funny how a chance meeting with former business colleagues can remind you how important that relationship was, and how it’s time to renew it. This is especially important for those running small businesses, and is perhaps even more important for those of us who are in the home business sector.  Supporting home-based businesses is an important part of supporting local businesses.

Those colleagues I met while shopping last week are part of the Kingston & Area Home Business Association (KAHBA) and I look forward to renewing my connections with them and others who were in the group when I was a part of this wonderfully supportive group. I also look forward to meeting the entrepreneurs who have become a part of KAHBA since I left.

Why I left is not as important as my realizing that I need to return. Everyone in business needs the support of those who may be facing the same challenges that come with the territory. We can also share our successes and learn how others are successful. We can all learn from each other—and the networking may also help to increase our client list.

Networking is an important part of all KAHBA meetings, but they also give members a chance to shine by doing a presentation about their business. The group also brings in speakers who share their knowledge and expertise that can help everyone.

I’m very lucky here to be a part of the Napanee & District Chamber of Commerce, but there are few, if any, home-based business entrepreneurs. Or at least few  I’ve met. Working from your home has its amazing advantages: you can often set your own hours; you can set your office or work space to your liking; and you [sometimes] have more control of your workload. Working at home also has its disadvantages: more discipline is sometimes needed to keep your work and home lives separate;  it’s [sometimes] difficult to convince people you are working; and you’re working alone, so it is very isolating.

Getting out of this isolation is really important, and so is the support you get from members in any professional association. I belong to other groups and I am really looking forward to renewing my membership in KAHBA. I invite other home-based entrepreneurs to check out this group.

So, John and Mary Platt from Kingston Home Maintenance–I’m so glad to have seen you at the Costco store, and I look forward to seeing you again soon.

The Kingston & Area Home Business Association’s next meeting is Saturday, June 14. Details are on the KAHBA website.

Note: Unfortunately, I had to be in Toronto on June 14, but I am hoping to get to the next meeting, Saturday, July 12. I hope to see many of my old KAHBA buddies there and look forward to meeting new friends.

 

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LOCAL BUSINESS SUPPORTS LOCAL HEALTHCARE

Downtown Napanee was awash with pink and yellow on Saturday, April 26 as many local merchants were doing their part to Help Fight Cancer and support the Chemotherapy Suite at the Lennox & Addington [L&A] County General Hospital.

I’d seen the signs in many store windows when I was downtown earlier in the week, so I made a point of going back, and making some purchases. I’m sure many others did too.

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I have to admit that my favourite purchases were the “Suite Truffles” prepared by Chef Pat Forster, proprieter of Seasons Fine Foods.  Pat made these truffles–rich, dark chocolate covered in pink–especially for this event, and is donating the cost of the ingredients, and proceeds from sales–to say nothing of the time taken to prepare these treats–to the Chemotherapy Suite fund.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASorry there’s no photo of the truffles–they were quickly eaten!

Many stores had specials on that day, or are donating part of their sales from the day to the Suite Fund. Some are continuing to raise funds. Starlet  sold pansies, which looked lovely both in front of, and inside the store.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe merchants of the Downtown BIA are working together on many different projects this spring and summer—so keep watching for the signs—and support our local businesses that continue to make such a positive difference in our community.

While this particular project may be unique to Napanee, all local businesses help their communities in some way, and we need to support them so they can keep supporting us!

 

 

 

 

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Supporting local business matters!

Does supporting local business matter? I’m surprised that anyone would ask that question, but many do. If they don’t actually ask the question, they think that a decision to buy goods and services elsewhere doesn’t really make a difference. But it does.

When you support a local business, rather than going to a “bigger” store, or buying online, you:

Give your community some character. Local business owners know—or quickly learn—what kinds of stores the community needs. The unique shops not only give local residents the goods and services they require, the shops might make your community a “destination” because what you have others might be looking for.

Keep your community thriving. It is so wonderful to walk down a main street and see a variety of stores and services. It is not so good to walk down a main street and see empty stores.

Keep your money in your community—and keep it circulating. Local businesses are always asked to support sports teams, clubs, and charitable organizations, and they can’t do that if their businesses are not doing well, and feeling supported by the community.

Create local jobs. When business is booming, storeowners have to hire people to help them.

Create some competition within the community—and within the business sector. Competition always drives things forward. Whether it’s in business, sports, or another sector, when there is competition, everyone ups their game—and we all win.

Build a relationship with local businesses—that pays off. When you know the storeowners and sales people, and they know you, you are much more likely to receive the service you need, and get any problems dealt with quickly. If you do find something online or in the “box” store at a cheaper price, ask if the local store can match it, or give you a similar deal? Chances are, they’ll try their best to accommodate you because you have that relationship—which you don’t have in the bigger stores, and certainly not with an online company.

So, now you know the answer to the question, “Does supporting local business matter?”

 

 

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Welcome–and welcome back!

Downtown Napanee is becoming an even more vibrant place than it has been. New businesses are opening, and businesses are coming back! That is true throughout many places locally.

This blog, Local Business Matters, will help you learn more about the businesses in Downtown Napanee and businesses throughout Greater Napanee and the surrounding region. These will all be owner-operated, and some may be home-based businesses. Variety will be the key.

We’ll be checking with the Napanee BIA, the Napanee District Chamber of Commerce, the County of Lennox & Addington, and other similar organizations to find out what’s coming, what’s new, and what’s changing. It’s an exciting time!

There are a lot of great business owners in the area, and we can’t feature them all, but we’ll do our best to show the diversity, as well as the entrepreneurial spirit that abounds.

Thanks for dropping by.  Please check back  every week to see what’s new, and add your voice to the conversation about why Local Business Matters.

 

* Current posts are Copyright, Christine Peets, owner of Captions Communications. Guest bloggers are always welcome. If you wish to write for Local Business Matters, or reprint the content, contact Christine by email, Christine(at)CaptionsCommunications(dot)ca

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