Shop locally for good deals, great finds

Published 10:29 pm Friday, January 4, 2013

You’ve heard this before, but let me reiterate: Shop local!

Nothing could be more important now in Suffolk, especially downtown. The holiday shopping rush has ended and with it came the unfortunate closing of two local businesses. Rosa’s Coffee Cantina and Uniquely Leo’s, a gift shop, both opened for the last time on Saturday. The Main Street businesses had become fixtures in the downtown scene.

It’s a shame to lose these businesses from Suffolk. I like the idea of helping support a local business while I’m picking out gifts for friends and family or just grabbing a bite to eat.

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On my way into work on Saturday, I stopped by for one last latte from Rosa’s. It was a bittersweet visit. The shop was bustling, but this time with people trying to get one last taco or cup of joe. The bookshelf — usually filled with merchandise — was bare.

I had just made my first visit to Uniquely Leo’s just before Christmas.

This Christmas I made a concerted effort to shop locally. I am new to the area and wanted to make sure I checked out the local shops first. Along with a friend from out of town, I made a special trip downtown for the Christmas open house. We ate at brunch at the Plaid Turnip and made our way to the various local shops. I was pleasantly surprised by the great selection and customer service.

Several of my family’s gifts were purchased in downtown Suffolk. I was happy to find what I wanted locally. One gift was a special wine glass at C3Vino for my mother. I stopped in just after Thanksgiving, but it hadn’t arrived at the store yet. Then I saw a North Carolina friend posted about it online, but from a national retailer. It would have cost $3 more, plus $5.95 shipping, for the same item from the national chain. Luckily, I was able to stop at C3Vino and snag one for the better price. And the present was a great hit.

I hope more people will take the plunge and open a business in downtown Suffolk. Despite closing, Rosa’s owner Drake Simms said he would do it over again. He and his wife opened the coffee shop and restaurant in March 2011. Simms said he enjoyed fulfilling his long-held dream of owning a coffee shop, getting to know his customers and becoming good friends with many of them. Shopping locally has helped me to get to know Suffolk a little better and share some great gifts with friends and family. I highly recommend it.