Living Local | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

Living Local

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Volume 1, Issue 3, "Think Global, Shop Local."

When the Jackson Free Press launched in 2002, one of our primary goals was to help strengthen locally owned businesses. We knew that the authenticity of a community—and, thus, its likelihood to keep residents and attract news ones—hinges in no small way on the variety of local shops and restaurants that give the city its flavor.

And let's be honest: In 2002, you couldn't find much of a local movement in Jackson. Many businesses had moved to the suburbs, and big-box chain stores dominated shopping time for many residents. Heck, there was only one McDade's Grocery—the original Maywood Mart location—and only one real farmers market.

The JFP set out immediately to seed a "locavore" movement in Jackson. The cover package of our issue No. 3, published Nov. 21, 2002, was themed "Think Global, Shop Local," and asked readers to "vote for your community with your dollars."

I wrote an essay about the wisdom of caring about the world beyond Jackson ("think global") while investing dollars in the local businesses that would held rebuild the city's future ("shop local").

"[I]f all us Jacksonians want an active retail and entertainment base in the heart of our city badly enough, it will happen," I wrote then. "But we can't afford to wait around for it; we must go make it so. That means supporting our own: buy local gifts this holiday, eat in local restaurants, seek out the wares of local artists, support businesses' attempts at longer hours."

The fashion shoot included a diverse group (including now-Hal & Mal's manager Jane Halbert) wearing fashion from local boutiques and shopping at the Greater Belhaven market, which was then in the "Jitney 14" parking lot on Fortification Street. (Now it's one McDade's four local stores and the vendors have moved to other markets.)

Back then, even Fondren wasn't what it is now: Ron Chane had a fabulous store there, Que Sera Sera and Walker's Drive-In were open, and Rainbow Whole Foods was the heart and soul of what was possible, as well as the small strip that appeared in "The Help" recently. Fondren Corner hadn't happened, yet, nor had the artists moved in. The area's best days were ahead.

Over the decade, we've never backed off on our campaign to get people to "spend local first." We always feature items available at locally owned businesses in our shopping and gift guides. We've been thrilled to see more businesses and even corporate-owned media (ironically) picking up the meme.

Now, the locavore and local-food movements are trendy across the nation, including in Jackson. We encourage you to keep spending your dollars locally first to keep more money, residents and tax base in Jackson.

QUIZ: Are You a Locavore?

  1. Do you always shop McDade's and Rainbow first before venturing into a Kroger, Fresh Market or other chain grocer to fill in the holes?

  2. Do you know what we mean when we say "Josh Hailey's daddy's drugstore?

  3. Do you buy or order new books from Lemuria?

  4. Do you only venture into chain bookstores for magazines and discount remaindered books?

  5. Do you purchase your office supplies from Barefield Workplace Solutions?

  6. Do you have no clue where a Wal-Mart is?

  7. Was this your first thought about the new, promised Whole Foods: "I hope it won't hurt Rainbow or McDade's"?

  8. Do you meet chicks at farmers markets?

  9. Did you recently say to yourself, "Chick Fil-A? What is that?"

  10. Do you buy most of your holiday presents from local artists and at fairs like Handworks, Chimneyville and Mistletoe Marketplace?

  11. Do you look up where stores, restaurants and even media are headquartered before spending your money with them?

  12. Do you swear by CUPS, Sneaky Beans and other local coffee shops over the ones imported from the sleepy Pacific northwest?

You get a point for every "yes" answer. If you scored 9-12, congratulations, you are hardcore local, baby! If you scored 5-8, you're on your way; keep it up! If you scored 1-4, you gotta get on the local stick. If you scored 0, we're surprised you're reading the JFP, but hope you join the locavore movement!

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