Of Local Cheer and Small Business Goodwill

art by Adam J. Kurtz

I recently had the pleasure of meeting Richelle Johnson, the lead analyst for the Center of Economic Development. Her research suggests that Alaska leads the nation in percentage of women owned businesses, 71% of them have fewer than 5 employees. 
It's easy for me to relate. Wildheart Magazine is made of 2 women. Our advertisers are all women owned businesses, and the vast majority of our stockists are as well.

The day before the second issue of WILDHEART MAGAZINE was released, a 7.2 earthquake hit. I approached our vendors a mere 24 hours after the event, most of them still picking up the broken pieces from their merchandise, lending a hand to one another, welcoming me and our product with the warmest embrace. The thing is, we see each other all the time, but the earth shattering -quite literally- brought to the surface what this community is really made of: kindness, solidarity, love. And I believe that is exactly what we, small business folks, put into our products. Behind the clothing, the shoes, the gear, the food, the art, the jewelry, the magazines is a real example of community and who we are as a whole.

Since issue 2 would be printed around the holidays, Jordan and I thought about making a gift guide highlighting our favorite small business products. In the end we decided against it because it did not fit the theme for this issue, and because other people around the state have already made awesome guides (see this beautiful one by SHE IN THE WOODS). Instead I will let you read some of the messages that were put forth just in the last 48 hours:

ANCHORAGE MUSEUM: "With the ASD school closures, we know some families may need spaces to play and learn. Our first floor will be open for regular hours beginning Tuesday, December 4th. Come enjoy the Discovery Center and relax in our winter themed atrium. We will put special activities from time to time as a way to reflect and share."

HALEY CAPRI of BLUSH BOUTIQUE: "A huge thank you to our Blush team and SoNo family that rolled up their sleeves and worked together to get our sweet building back in working order. To Ellen and Stacy when went above and beyond and Zach for getting and installing a new water heater for us, and V for saving me the I locked myself out.

According to the DOWNTOWN ANCHORAGE REPOSITORY, the SANDWICH DECK downtown  was "open and serving hot coffee and cold cut sandwiches... to people who needed a place to land after the madness".

DOS MANOS GALLERY "Thank you so much for all your concern after the earthquake. We've had so many offers for help and support. Simply shopping with us or any local business is hands down the best support we can ask for. I think most local business owners would agree that we take pride and honor in showing up day after day, month after month. That can't be done without regular and continued patronage from our community."

K&W INTERIORS put out a safety checklist:
"Major things to check at home after an earthquake:
1.Gas. If you smell natural gas, there is a shutoff valve outside at your gas meter with a quarter turn valve. Turn it one quarter turn so that the valve is 90 degrees to the pipe.
2.Check for water leaks hear your hot water heater and boiler if you have one. If there are leaks, turn off power to the boiler first, then turn of the water supply to the boiler and water heater. and water heater, and

3.Look at lighting fixtures to make sure they have not ripped loose from the ceiling. If so, do not turn the fixture on and contact an electrician.

4.Cabinets and closets doors should be opened carefully. Step to the side when you open them.

5.Look on the wall above doors and windows to see if there is cracking visible in the walls. If so, that is an indication of structural damage. You may need to bring a structural engineer in to assess the damage. Be careful.

6.Look out for broken glass from falling decorations, dishes flying out of cupboards, etc."

And these are just a few. 
The list of goodwill is long, and the resilience of these small, local businesses is the fabric upon which we build our relationships, create our products, deliver our services, and function as a community. 

My friend, Adam Legg posted this on his Facebook page: "Maybe it's because we're so removed from the rest of the country. Maybe it's because we as Alaskan have a unique bond, but whatever it is, we saw the very best of Alaska on display immediately following the very worst of Mother Nature." This got me thinking that as much as it is awesome that we come together when a disaster hits, what is better is that this is just who we are: people who care.

When Wildheart was in its beginning stages and we were looking for stockists to carry the magazine, I emailed a few people, among them Dan Greenhalgh of SKINNY RAVEN, asking him if he would stock a magazine that, at that point in time, had never been printed. His answer was simple: "100%… Thanks for giving us the opportunity to stock, and support you, a friend, who has supported us." 

I am lucky and proud to live amongst you, to live, work, and play with you. 
Support small, live local.


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