You’ll find this to be a different kind of blog post for us because this one isn’t about pet health or pet care. Rather, this is a post about “people care” which, when you think about it, ultimately affects everyone: our family, our friends, our neighbors, our community, and—yes—even our pets.
Unique Shops Make Unique Cities
We have a tremendously positive movement in our city that aims to support local businesses. This goal is greatly spurred on by our friends at Keep St. Pete Local (KSPL), whose mission is to educate and encourage our residents to support local business owners.
We want to share with you not only why this is so very important, especially in our current climate, but also share ways that you too can share in this incredible movement. We also want to share what this means to us personally at Northeast Animal Hospital and Downtown St. Pete Vet Clinic.
St. Pete’s one-of-a-kind businesses are an integral part of our unique character. No doubt, you see and feel the difference when you visit other towns or cities and drive-by strip malls full of chain stores and franchised restaurants. Then you compare that with driving by locally-owned shops, bakeries, cafes, pubs, and the like.
There’s an unparalleled special vibe to St. Pete businesses. Indeed, it’s this unique personality that lends to our local outings that make them just that: a unique and interesting destination that draws people to visit. This specialness encourages shoppers and tourists to keep money in our local economy, helping local businesses to stay afloat during these difficult times.
Your support helps local businesses stay OPEN!
Links in a Chain vs. Gems in a Crown
We know you have a lot of choices when it comes to how you spend your dollar, and “big box” stores and online retailers offer the luxury of a huge selection and two-day shipping. We may reason that chain stores and restaurants located in St. Pete still supply jobs to our residents, and are perhaps even owned by locals. But, as stated by KSPL,
“A fast-food concept is not going to employ as many people as a St. Pete-grown, independent restaurant. Not as much money stays and recirculates in our community either.”—Keep St. Pete Local.
We may agree that our city would not be the same without the intrepid Floridians who took risks years ago to start what are now our city gems. Dr. Scribano is one of those residents who took a risk in 1998 and bought Northeast Animal Hospital from the retiring Dr. Albers. Northeast Animal Hospital has now occupied the same space for nearly 48 years, providing health care and boarding for thousands of St. Pete pets.
Dr. Scribano went on to open Downtown St. Pete Vet Clinic in the heart of downtown seven years ago to provide vet care to the ever-growing downtown area. Between his two locations, Dr. Scribano provides jobs to over 30 families, not to mention supporting other local businesses for behind-the-scenes operations.
Dr. Mark Scribano and family in 1998, the year he became the owner of Northeast Animal Hospital.
The Rise of Online Pharmacies
However, we have seen a major shift caused by chain and online retailers. Despite much negative press, pet grooming at big box chain stores remains very popular. In addition, online pharmacies with the convenience of home delivery and promises of lower prices are drawing in greater numbers of pet owners. But are the prices of these chain stores and online pharmacies really lower, and what is the true cost of using them?
When Dr. Scribano saw the rising trend of online pharmacy usage, he understood the appeal immediately. But he also understood the importance of giving his clients the convenience they seek with the cost savings they need by offering an equivalent online, home delivery pharmacy on his website.
Indeed, a price comparison of identical prescriptions reveals that in many, if not most, cases our online pharmacy can offer the same price (if not lower!) as other online pharmacies. When you factor in our free shipping, even when we seem to be just a few dollars more, we can still ultimately save you money in the end. On those occasions when our prices are just a few dollars more, is it worth the extra expense?
What is Truly the “Best” Price?
That is a question that residents of St. Petersburg have to answer for themselves when choosing to support local businesses. Many local business owners have started offering curbside pick-up, free shipping within the county, even free delivery. They offer these, not only to help in this time of pandemic we are now living in but also to compete with what online retailers can offer customers.
Still, sometimes local owners find themselves unable to compete with mass retailers who deal in substantial bulk. It may cost just a little more to buy that coffee from a local coffee shop instead of that chain donut shop or to buy that gift from a local boutique instead of ordering from an online giant.
Our neighbors at Craft Kafe make hand-crafted coffees that you’ll be hard-pressed to find anywhere else, from single origin and specialty pourovers and espressos to cold brew Kyoto drip. Not to mention their teas! And did we mention ALL of their tasty treats are gluten-free?!
At the same time, however, the money you spend at a local shop stays local, keeping commercial retail spaces, offices, and restaurants from sitting empty, and keeping housing values from dropping. We know times are really tough right now for everyone. But, if you are able to spend money, we would like you to please consider supporting local business owners that live and work here in St. Pete.
Keep St. Pete Local posted on their social media a message that really resonates with us. In part, it reads:
“Since the pandemic began, local businesses need support right now more than ever. Some of your favorite St. Pete-grown businesses are days away from having to close for good. Most small businesses lack the reserves to cover long-term revenue loss. At most, they may have had a few weeks’ worth of cash on hand – it’s been nearly six months. They’ve gone through their reserves, they’ve used up their loans and grants (if they even received any), they’ve maxed out their credit cards. They’re in dire straits. They’re dying, and with them die more jobs, more potential for new entrepreneurs, what really makes St. Pete special. We’ve already lost some of our favorite businesses, and will lose many more, if we don’t act right now. We’re going to lose the very same places which created the vibe that drew these franchises here. We don’t just want our St. Pete-grown businesses to be standing later, we absolutely need them to be.”—Keep St. Pete Local.
More Benefits of Supporting Local Businesses
When purchases are made from independent, locally owned businesses, significantly more money recirculates within the local economy. This is partially due to those locally owned business owners making their own purchases from other local businesses and service providers. This interchange of support helps grow other businesses, as well as strengthens St. Petersburg’s economy.
If you put all the locally owned businesses together nationwide, they form the largest employer in the country, becoming the largest job provider to community residents. Also, buying local is good for the earth! Less packaging and less transportation to ship your goods to you result in a smaller carbon footprint.
Shopping local reduces our carbon footprint and reduces waste.
The more local shops and restaurants we have, the more diversity and choice we have! Large chains base their inventory on national trends, or by phasing out products (and foods!) that you love in order to capitalize on the “next big thing” which they mass order at a deep discount.
On the other hand, local business owners take the time to get to know their customers and select products based on their wants and needs. Did they phase out your favorite handmade soap or replace your favorite menu item? Ask them if you can still have it made! (Writer’s note: When a local bakery quit making my favorite muffin, I spoke to the owner who provided me with a way to still get my fix!)
Local boutique Great American Natural Products offering both hand-crafted items and unique gifts, housewares, clothing, jewelry, and more. Plan on getting pampered when you visit!
The opportunity to develop a personal relationship with local business owners often results in better service. From tree trimming to dental work, business owners know that mutual give, share, and support results in great long-term customers.
Tips To Help You “Keep St. Pete Local”
We hope we’ve helped inspire you to lend your support to local businesses; or, if you already support them, to continue to do so, so that we can “keep our St. Pete vibe alive.” (Another sentiment we love from KSPL.) In short, here are some tips from KSPL on how you can help, including ways that won’t cost you a thing!
- BUY LOCAL from our local shops and seek out local service providers for all your personal, self-care, (pet-care!), and house-related needs.
- EAT LOCAL – If you’re not comfortable dining in, order take-out, and whenever possible, pick-up (delivery apps take high fees). Tip generously. Buy from local grocers/markets, and seek out locally-made & locally-grown food.
- DRINK LOCAL – Choose our locally-made/brewed beverages: coffee, juice, kombucha, beer, spirits (whether on-site or at the grocers/in shops).
THINGS YOU CAN DO FOR FREE TO SUPPORT:
- Follow your favorite local businesses and non-profits on social media
- Like (better yet, love), comment on, tag others on, and share their posts
- Recommend to friends and family
- Write positive reviews (Facebook, Google, Yelp)
Maybe you’ve seen the sentiment, “When you buy from a local business an actual person does a happy dance.” That’s your neighbor!
Thank You for All You Do!
This has been a year of major change in so many respects, but remember, we are all in this together, as neighbors and as a community. We love seeing how people are pulling together, supporting small businesses and locally owned shops and restaurants. We have been grateful recipients of this support, and of people taking the time to leave positive reviews for us.
We’ve observed people going out of their way to give a shout out to businesses, encouraging others to give them their backing. We love seeing this amazing loyalty to our city and to the people we love so much! In these difficult times, if a local business has failed to meet your expectations, please, kindly give them a call and allow them the opportunity to make it right for you. As local business owners, that is our ultimate goal from the start!
Thank you for this, and for all you do to help build a stronger St. Pete community!