Last post I wrote about a local amazing store called oniomania that I had recently visited. While writing about that specific store and all the wonderful gifts they have, I got a great idea. One of the best gifts you can give is the gift of experience!
How do you give the gift of experience? Think of places you have just fallen in love with. In our city of West Allis, there are many local businesses that fit that description. With all of the hard times businesses are facing, why not give the gift of an experience at a local business?
There are so many ways to celebrate with friends while supporting local businesses. Margie and I love stopping at Westallion, the local brewery, to enjoy some very festive and unique brews. We often visit there with friends and family. West Allis Cheese and Sausage is a great place to not only take friends for breakfast or lunch, but has a great little store filled with delicious gifts to feed the stomach and the soul. For our more active friends we have Transaction Skate Shop, filled with everything you could need for skating.
If you can’t support a local business in person during the busy holiday season, why not purchase gift cards to give to others? You will be both giving the gift of a great experience to someone you care about, but giving the gift of a great holiday to local business owners and your neighbors they employ. The possibilities are endless! We have great places to eat such as Urban Joe Cafe and Peanut Butter and Jelly Deli, plus places to work it off like Peak Physique. Giving the gift of a great meal or cup of coffee? How about the gift of health and fitness? All well helping the business owners, their employees and all of their families enjoy the holidays more? It is a win for everyone!
It is holiday season crunch time. You know many of your favorite stores will be a madhouse of last-minute shoppers. Even if you are strong enough and brave enough to boldly enter lands filled with untamed consumers, chances of finding exactly what you want, in the color and size you want, are slim to none. There is always online! We are fast approaching, if not past, the time when we see the dreaded ‘May not arrive by Christmas’ line. Plus, how do you look online for those impossible to buy for people in our lives? We all have at least one. You can’t very well look up a gift you can’t even think of.
Today Margie and I discovered a magical solution that solves all of those problems and more! Only a few blocks from our house in the fabulous city of West Allis Wisconsin where we live we found the hidden treasure called Oniomania. A strange name, but translated as an uncontrollable urge to buy things. It is a small store. You can walk around it in five minutes. You will, however, be able to spend hours inside. Somehow fit into this small area of space are hundreds of the most unique and compelling gift ideas you could come across. Many are from local crafters and artists. They are one-of-a-kind gifts you will not find anywhere else. You will not only enjoy finding gifts for that impossible to buy for person on your list, you will undoubtedly go home with something fun for yourself. In doing so you will not only help support local business owner Andrea, but many of the independent business owners she supports by providing a platform to sell their amazing, made from the heart creations.
Speaking of owner Andrea, you would be hard pressed to find a more customer oriented person. From the moment we walked in the store she was filled with pleasantries and helpful knowledge. She had knowledge of, and helpful suggestions for every one of the hundreds of items in her store. We purchased items for people we didn’t even know we were shopping for. Two of the people who really lucked out were Margie and Neil. (I told you that you can’t help but take home something for yourself) For years Margie has been wanting one of these lamps composed of different pieces of colored plastic put together in some sort of mind-boggling puzzle formation. Not only did Andrea offer us a host of colors to choose from, she somehow managed to put them together and take them apart with amazing speed so we could see what it would look like before we took one home. Margie also purchased a wonderful pair of tropical themed socks to help me make it through the long, cold winter.
As a further testament to her generosity and commitment to community, Andrea has also been kind enough to offer my book, A Happy Life for Busy People, for sale at her store. Inside this fun to read book you will learn a host of different methods for reducing your stress, increasing your joy and becoming the best version of yourself. All of this can be accomplished at little to no cost to you in only 2 to 5 minutes a day. Couple that with the relaxing scented soap I purchased or one of the many relaxing locally crafted candles, and you have yourself a great start to the new year. Imagine being able to give this gift of happiness to someone you care about? What a better way to show you care than giving the gift of joy and happiness to those special people in your life? You will feel good doing it too knowing you helped support many local, hard-working people that make the city the special place it is.
Whether you live in West Allis Wisconsin or somewhere else, I am going to include the link to their Facebook page so you can discover and enjoy Oniomania for yourself. Whether you purchase from this particular store or another local establishment, you will find yourself filled with a lot more holiday spirit. You will be less stressed because you will be able to find that unique and special gift available nowhere else and you will have a warm heart knowing that you made the holidays a lot brighter for those neighbors in your own community. Shop local. You will find great gifts for those you care about, you will support your community and you will give yourself the inner joy knowing you will brighten the holidays for many people by picking up just one gift.
Time is one thing that always moves on. In the photo above you see the intersection of the streets of 70th and Greenfield in the city of West Allis taken in the early 1900s. The Bank is still there. It is now BMO Harris, not First National. It also doesn’t look nearly as cool though. The building that says Schurs was for a moment a diner called Skelly’s that served delicious greasy breakfast. I recall walking in there and always smelling eggs and toast. The street lights also look a great deal different.
Some people may lament over the passing of time and the changes it creates. Not only is this a fools endeavor, as the only thing constant is change, but it robs us of a chance to focus on some of the positives. Yes, the bank looked far more impressive to me in the picture above than it does now, but it also has a little seating area it didn’t have before. I sure love little places that you can stop and get breakfast and would have loved to go to Skelly’s with Margie. What is there now is a nice place called Urban Joe’s. Not only do they serve wonderful breakfast and great coffee, they do so with a smile.
It certainly doesn’t do us harm to fondly remember the businesses of yesteryear, but let us celebrate and support the businesses of today. We may not have a Shur’s or Skelly’s anymore, but we do have plenty of other amazing businesses. We have Peanut Butter and Jelly Deli where you can explore the crazy possibilities ofcreating things with… you guessed it peanut butter and jelly! Trust me when I tell you that you will be in for some delicious surprises. There are also great gyms like Peak Physique where you can learn everything from kickboxing to yoga and so much more. Ricky, the owner, is passionate and knowledgeable about fitness and would love to help you.
Supporting local businesses is one way to have a vital and healthy community. What I think is even more important and constructive is to get to know and support your neighbors. There are plenty of fun and exciting ways in which to do this. True, we may never go back to the days of leaving our doors unlocked, but we can make our towns a lot friendlier and safer by connecting with those in our community.
Supporting local businesses and getting to know their owners like Mike from Peanut Butter and Jelly Deli and Ricky from Peak Physique is a good start. I suggest adding connecting with other neighbors through groups on social media such as Facebook and Nextdoor. You can also join local community groups. We have several in my city such as East Allis Association and Women’s Club of West Allis. There are countless others that all represent one possible fun way to get to meet and know your neighbors. Taking classes at your local recreation center is another great way to meet those who live near you. Even simply taking a walk through the neighborhood can introduce you to a host of new smiling faces.
Everyone wants a safe, strong and vital community. It is up to us to create it. Support local business, get to know your neighbors and join groups that make a difference. Be a part of the solution and you will feel better about the town you live in.