I grew up in a town with a population of about 700 people. But, we were located on a big, big lake — the second largest inland lake in Minnesota which is the land of 10,000 lakes. That means we had a lot of fisher folk and tourists visiting our little town on the weekends and during the summer.
Most of my jobs growing up relied on the tourism. Resorts, restaurants, bars, and cute little gift shops all depend on the lake. I remember working at restaurants during the summer or over a weekend and seeing all the tourists coming in after enjoying a day out in the lake or shopping on Main Street and I remember wondering what the draw to our tiny town was.
Obviously I took what we had for granted when I was a teenager, which is why I decided to take a weekend getaway to the lake with my sonny boy and one of my best friends (she blogs over at Sweetie Pies and a Touch of Life). And we experienced what it was those tourists saw in that tiny town.
Here’s why I visited my hometown like a visitor and why you should do the same…
1. I had the time
First and foremost the reason we did and were able to enjoy our visit as though we had never been there is because we had the time to. We made the time to visit the shops and explore the lake shore. This is something visitors do because that’s their main reason for being there. When I visit my hometown it’s usually to see my dad, my brother, my grandpa, my friends ect. So I never have leave time to do those other things.
Here’s why you should make the time:
How many times do you drive down the same road to work, school, the grocery store, without stopping to pay attention to what shops and interesting landmarks are located down that drive? I know, especially in the past few years, that I have zipped through Main Street of my hometown without giving it a second glance. Take time to walk into some of those locally-owned and operated stores and restaurants and give them business. It is because of these stores owned by locals that America doesn’t all look the same. Go out and make time to support your neighbors, your friends’ relatives, or just someone who is following their dreams by owning their own business whether it be a shop, a restaurant, or a salon.
2. We needed sweatshirts
Okay, this is about to sound 50 shades of crazy, but when we got up to my hometown for our weekend getaway, I realized I did not pack a comfy, hooded sweatshirt. Which is just a necessity when you are hanging out by a lake or out in the country (where my dad and brother both live and where I grew up). So, my friend said let’s buy Mille Lacs sweatshirts, I want one, too. So, this sent us into a shopping frenzy. We had to visit every single small shop to find the absolute best sweatshirt to commemorate our trip. Now, I have SEVERAL shirts that say Mille Lacs Lake on them already, some of the places I worked required this as a part of the work uniform. But, now I have a new one to sport when I am away from my hometown. And, people will ask about Mille Lacs and I can brag the area up, hopefully sending more business up north!
Here’s why you should ‘need a sweatshirt’
Okay, I realize not everyone is from a small, cutesy tourist town where they can buy souvenirs and that’s okay. Think of this metaphorically. When someone asks about where you come from, be proud and highlight the good points. I feel like this is especially important for those of us who grew up or now live in a small town. We have to support small towns as much as we can! And, by purchasing a sweatshirt you have supported a business with a $40 dollar sale, but by wearing the sweatshirt for the next few years and talking about everything the area has to offer you are supporting a locally owned, small business more than you can imagine.
3. I was showing it off
Since I was with my friend, and my sonny boy, I wanted to show off all the fun things there were to do in my little hometown! Now, my friend has been to my hometown multiple times and my kiddo is only three months old and he will be visiting there A LOT throughout his lifetime, so my ‘showing off’ was probably falling on deaf ears. But, I wanted to feel like an insider by bringing them to the nice hiking trails around the State Park and treating them to one of my favorite cups of coffee (way better than any of the franchise coffee shops if you ask me).
Here’s why you should show off your hometown/favorite small town…
Okay, so, the obvious thing here is that if you know of something awesome, why would you not want to share it with others. I mean you could be like a tourist hipster or something. “I knew of that coffee shop before it was cool.” or “I have hiked this trail many times before the geocachers took it over” haha. But in all seriousness, small town businesses don’t count on flying UNDER the radar. They count on word of mouth advertising from loyal customers and someone who has never been somewhere before hopes to hear of reviews from friends or family who have been there before. So do everyone a favor and show off your favorite locally owned shop or restaurant and spread the good word about a new business you discovered. Not only will you sound awesome and original but you will be helping out a family or a person who might have given up everything to pursue their passion.
Wouldn’t you want someone to do the same?
Let’s talk about it!
Did you grow up in a small town or do you live in a small town now? What are some of your favorite places to go and things to do?
If you didn’t grow up or don’t live in a small town, have you ever visited one lately? Let’s hear about it!