I will admit to being completely biased, but there is no better place than where I am sitting right now. I am in a local Edmonton coffee shop, looking out at Whyte Avenue and a myriad of local businesses who give back to the community. Just as importantly, I am looking out at a constant stream of shoppers (and right now, a parking attendant) who are visiting shops up and down Whyte Ave, stopping to look at the mash of random posters plastered to poles on the sidewalk.
This is the heart of a city. Where people walk up and down finding the best deals, the unique purchases, the local flair. Someone behind me just asked, “Where’s the best place to shop on Whyte Ave?” What a great question! Not, “What’d you buy from Wal-mart or Best Buy or McDonald’s?” But instead where’s a great place to shop…which implies the wonder of exploration.
Fire truck! (sorry, Whyte Ave is busy today!)
That’s the thing, you walk into a big chain store and you know exactly what you’re going to buy, what colours are optional, what aisle is for boys and which aisle is for girls. With many of these local Whyte Ave stores, you walk in and you’re going to see something that is not available anywhere else in the world. Chocolate made by local artists and workers, clothing with just enough funky edge that it can’t be mass produced, music that is just slightly more expensive because, at the end of the day, when you buy from an individual, that individual needs to eat. Not a corporation. Not a brand. A person. That’s the heart of the city, isn’t it?
And so now I will join the mass of people walking through the shops on their way to their next bit of exploration. And i will explore alongside them, looking for the unique, honouring the local business that made it possible.
And if I stray too long, hopefully I’ll be able to beat that parking attendant to my car.