Did you know that Valentine, Neb., is just one of a dozen U.S. cities that sport that name? And that there are a half-dozen towns simply named “Love”? If you get into variations — Loveville, Loving, Loveland, Lovelock and the like — there are more than two dozen.
What prompted these and other romantic city names? A few are named for people, but the other ones? We’re sure they have some stories to tell, and probably a Valentine tradition or two.
Even if you don’t live in a Valentine- or romance-themed place, you can still show some local love at Valentine’s day. Why not give a gift that does more than please your Valentine for a day or two? “Shop Local” is so much more than a catch phrase or campaign — it helps our communities over the long term.
We know some amazing craftspeople whose work benefits their communities all year round, and we’ll bet there are plenty in your neck of the woods as well. Here are just a few examples of how local folks — whether side gigs or full-time entrepreneurs — put dollars into the local economy.
Let’s start with a gal we know who can take pretty much anything and turn it into a work of art. We envy her mad skills. She shops the local rummage and white elephant sales to pick up bits and pieces, which she repurposes into wreaths, seasonal decorative items, and other fun stuff to brighten up the house or yard.
Not only does she produce unique items, her dollars go into the local economy multiple times when she buys her “raw materials” from others and when she spends the money she earns. Not only that, she helps to reduce the amount of stuff that ends up in the local landfill. Easily a win-win.
Then there’s the welder who creates art as a side gig. She’s got a creative bent that needs an outlet, and it sure doesn’t hurt that it helps pay the bills.
What this gal sees in discarded metal is amazing. She picks through gears, chain, bearings, and whatever else is laying around at the salvage yard, checks out bits and bobs and mismatched silverware at flea markets, and even has her friends on the lookout for weird-looking weldable metal whatevers.
Just like our friend who repurposes rummage sale finds, this welder puts dollars into the local economy when she buys others’ cast-offs. She also contributes when she buys her welding supplies and gases at a local small business. And then she, too, puts money she earns from selling her artwork back into her local community.
Last but not least, there’s our friend who has a small goat dairy. Her goats supply her family with milk and cheese, and she sells goat shares (the legal means to sell raw milk in some states) as well as milk-based products — say “gift items” — like soap and lotion. She’s a firm believer in contributing to her local economy, and an advocate for other entrepreneurs.
These are just a few of the folks we know who glean from their communities, who create, reuse, and/or repurpose, and who help keep their communities whole and healthy. They offer all sorts of gift-worthy items — some fun, some useful, and sometimes a bit of both. Quilts, clothes, jewelry, personalized items, home decor, yard art, you name it — you can probably find a local vendor that makes it.
So before you hit the chain stores or start browsing online sites, check out what your local folks have to offer. Then give your honey some local love this Valentine’s Day!