5th Annual West Sonoma Small Town Shopping Tour
A Personal Tour of West Sonoma County Small Towns
Enjoy the Beauty while you Support Local Merchants
By Vesta Copestakes
Each year the audience for this tour broadens, so each year I explain my mission to newcomers. I understand that gas prices are going up and that might stall people from heading out of town to shop for gifts. But the benefits out-weigh that liability for two very important reasons.
Reason #1: let's start with you. Five days a week - or more - you work. Most people drive to work along the same route every day. See the same sights, see the same building and the same people... every day. This Tour takes you out to where the hills are green, the air is fresh and even if it's pouring rain, just gazing off into the distance makes you feel good. If you know the term Joy Ride, take a moment to ponder the word JOY. Pulling out the map at the center of this tour and picking a direction will bring JOY to your heart. It will lighten your psychic load.
Reason #2: shop locally. It's a term that almost makes us feel guilty when we shop corporate. So I'll start with the concept that even large corporations have a local element. They employ our neighbors. It's a long and circuitous route from your dollar to their dinner table - but at least a small portion of your hard-earned money gets to the goal of supporting your neighbor. The more direct approach is to shop in stores owned by locals. They also employ our neighbors, but you know your dollar is going straight to their PG&E bill.
Be Tourist at Home
Most of these small towns rely heavily on tourists for their survival. Winter comes and the tourists stay home, so this is our chance to play local tourist. So come on out and play tourist. Pretend you're on vacation! Have some fun!! And while you're doing it, check off those gifts you want to bestow upon people you love.
I never know where to start, so I'm doing what I suggest you do. Start at home and work your way out. Wherever you live, there are people eager to serve your shopping needs. And the best part is that this isn't just a job for them. I know the shops in this tour because, when I distribute my newspaper, I take a copy into merchants for their reading pleasure. I'm proud of my newspaper. In the process I meet people, get to know them over time and form friendships based upon mutual respect and admiration. These are good people and I want to support them.
There are plenty of places to shop along the way that are not in this tour, not because they aren't worthy, just because there's only so much room on these pages. I'm counting on you to wander the towns and find your own treasures. We live in wonderful communities filled with people who wish to serve our needs while they make a living. It's a mutually beneficial system.
Guest Tour Guides
This year I encouraged our Wine Banter columnist, Dick Starr, to take his own tour of wine shops, places where you can taste a variety of products in one place. He took to his assignment with relish and the results are in the Wine Junket section of this tour. Dick knows wine well and I trust his judgment on the shops. I also trust that you will be escorted by your very own designated driver if you decide to take his tour all in one day!
Garden columnist Judy Brinkerhoff, also created a Gardener's Shopping List to help her compatriots get what they want for presents! And Eco Girl Patricia Dines wrote about having an eco-friendly holiday in her Ask Eco Girl column in the main body of this month's newspaper. It's wonderful to share the responsibility of turning readers on to good places, presents and practices!
Let's hit the road, and since I live in Forestville, I'll do what I suggest you do, and head out your door, pick a direction, stop at the bank for cash and have a very good time!