Going Local—100% Upside

This guest blog post was written by David Stempien.

My pic

David Stempien

Last week, I became a Localist.

I’m not an economics expert. Nor am I a small business owner. These days, I’m just finding myself more appreciative of the business men and women who take a chance and open up their own shop.

It all started about a year ago when a friend recommended trying a new place for dinner in Chandler called Barrelhouse. So my wife and I went, and we were gastronomically pleased. But there was more to it than the food. We talked extensively with the waiter. He spoke of other new ventures popping up locally, and advised us to keep our eyes open for them. He was well-connected to other local business owners and over the course of our meal, we got the insider’s view of a network of people offering new experiences to Arizona consumers like us.

And there was still more. There was the unique, cozy atmosphere stuffed into an older strip mall, and it felt like there was some new vitality in a place I wouldn’t have gone to otherwise. Which made me think; why not stop in at some of the other stores here? It’s a pretty good motivator if you want more diversity in your strip malls.

After a few stories from our waiter about the owner, I felt a great deal of appreciation of risk-takers who strike out on their own, working 80-hour weeks to get their business off the ground. I felt like I was helping. Not because I was charitable—but because they earned it. So I made a vow to “go local” as often as possible.

So much for the emotional side of localism. It feels good. It’s fulfilling. But if you’re a left-brainer, here’s some fodder for you. I consider myself a rational, data-driven consumer—at least as best I can be. I see the studies that show spending on local businesses keeps more money in the state, a couple of which are illustrated on this website. That motivates me, too. It just makes sense. If you shop locally, it helps the state—the whole state; the people, the government, the culture, the business environment. It’s the circle of economic life, Arizona style.

Your turn. Go record a song in a local studio. Buy some Arizona produce and get some fiber in your system. Stop into the nearest custom shop and put those new rims on your car. And take a few friends to that local bar you haven’t tried yet. See how you feel. It’ll be good, I bet—so good that you’ll be motivated to write the next guest blog.

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Verde River Day Features Over 40 Nature-Based Exhibits

Screen Shot 2014-09-17 at 10.53.43 PMCalling all nature lovers! Saturday, September 27th, Dead Horse Ranch State Park is celebrating Verde River Day, a family friendly event featuring a full day of activities and events for all ages! This annual celebration is aimed at “promoting preservation and care of the environment by showcasing informative exhibits on the Verde’s riparian habitat.”

Guests can enjoy a whole slew of events, including non-stop canoe rides, live entertainment and local food vendors. And for the kiddos there’s a climbing wall, play area and pony rides. Don’t miss out on over 40 different nature-based exhibits, including sand-castle building, nature hikes, live animals and more!

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Dead Horse Ranch State Park

Verde River Day is also adding an interactive artistic element with Earth Art Gallery, where guests are encouraged to participate and create with photography/graffiti, sand paint, weaving wall, and clay sculpting.

Looking for a little relaxation? Be sure to pack your fishing pole because folks of all ages are welcome to fish in the lagoon filled with catfish. The Arizona Fish and Game Department will also have fishing clinics available. Poles, bait and tackle will be provided for all ages.

Why not turn it into a weekend? Dead Horse Ranch State Park is home to 423 acres of great camping sites and cabins, available by reservation. Come celebrate the great outdoors with the whole family at Verde River Day, located just across from the Verde River in the beautiful town of Cottonwood. See you there!

Find out more about Verde River Day! Check out what else is happening at Arizona State Parks!

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Arizona Showcases its Greatest Treasure in Clarkdale

This is a Northern Arizona Spotlight: Copper Art Museum

Copper Art MuseumYou might be surprised to see what they’ve done to the old Clarkdale High School. Inside the unassuming gray exterior is the Copper Art Museum, Arizona’s newest museum featuring American and European copper art and collections for study ranging from the 16th – 20th centuries. This incredible collection is both a commemoration of our “Copper State” as well as a celebration of the artistic man-made creations from the red-metal.

Clarkdale is the perfect location for Copper Art Museum because of its convergence of rich history as a copper mining town as well as the structural elegance that remains from the City Beautiful movement. Senator W. A. Clark first established Clarkdale in the early 20th century as a company-town and built housing for his United Verde Copper Company (UVCC) smelter. Also in the early 1900’s areas of the United States were experiencing a period now call “City Beautiful” which was a movement in urban planning referring to the construction of monumental grandeur to promote an American style and civic virtue.

On display are artifacts made by “coppersmiths, soldier artists and braziers; many of whom were masters in their trade,” states Drake Meinke, the creative mind behind Copper Art Museum. Visitors can easily spend hours marveling at the vast collection as they move around the six exhibit sections split into Information Room, Military Art Room, Art & Architecture Room, which includes a Religious Art Room, Kitchenware Collection, Drinkware Collection, and Distillery & Winery.


Military Art Room at Copper Art Museum

Stepping into the Military Art Room visitors are surrounded by Trench Art, or art created using artillery shells by soldiers during WWI. The intricate details on each shell seems to play a sort of optical illusion masking the volatile casings as delicate table decorations.

It was Drake Meinke’s mother, the second generation of antique dealers, whose fascination with copper art pieces now fills each exhibit room of the museum. “When she was selling at the shows, she started to focus more on copper items and getting away from just generalized antiques, like glass and ceramics,” Meinke said. “From the 80s and 90s, she was more into just copper artifacts.”

KitchenwareRm Copper Art Museum

Kitchenware Collection at Copper Art Museum

It took Meinke nine solid years of searching, planning, and constructing before finally opening in the old Clarkdale HS last December. “We refurbished the floors, the walls, the ceiling, the roof, the plumbing, the electricity, the bathrooms, painting,” he said. “We’ve done absolutely everything to include 450 panes of glass that were broken or plastic that we replaced in the building,”

Just shy of celebrating one year since opening its doors, Copper Art Museum has become a popular destination. Most recently, the museum has won the 2014 Governor’s Tourism Award. The Arizona Preservation award is presented to the individual, organization, or community making the most significant contribution in preserving some aspect of the natural, cultural, or aesthic legacy of Arizona.

Check out Clarkdale’s newest destination featuring Arizona’s greatest treasure, now on display daily! Group prices, individual prices and docent tours available.

Find out more info about Copper Art Museum. Find out more about pricing and hours at Copper Art Museum. Follow Copper Art Museum on their Facebook.

Posted in LFA Member Spotlight, Local First Movement, Northern Arizona | Leave a comment

LFA Empowers Pinetop-Lakeside Business Owners Through Workshops

pinetop seminar

Local First Arizona Director Kimber Lanning leads a workshop for Pinetop-Lakeside local business owners.

Earlier this month, Local First Arizona traveled to Pinetop-Lakeside to teach a series of seminars to empower local business owners. The two September workshops, focused on social media and “leveraging your localness,” were a followup to two previous seminars that LFA led in July on customer service and tourism strategies. These four workshops were offered as a package to the Pinetop-Lakeside local business community as a way to encourage them to work collectively towards promoting and marketing their region to a wider Arizona audience. 

pinetop gathering place

The Gathering Place in Pinetop-Lakeside was a beautiful venue to host some local business workshops!

These four workshops together offered local businesses a complete set of tools to sustainably run their business. The Tourism Strategies workshop discussed different options for the region to draw tourists to the region from Arizona and beyond, focusing on what makes the White Mountain region different from other popular destinations. The Customer Service workshop was important to ensure that business owners properly trained their staffs and employed best practices to encourage repeat visitors and customers to the region and their businesses. The Leveraging Your Localness workshop taught businesses specific ways to draw customers in by focusing on their roots in the community. And the Social Media seminar for small businesses taught business owners the benefits of a well-maintained social media presence to attract visitors and locals to their businesses and promote the region as a whole. Together, these workshops offered business owners a complete set of skills to best run their businesses.

Local First Arizona has consistently promoted collaboration as a main theme in both rural and urban communities. When local businesses collaborate with one another, they can combine their resources to reach a wider audience, which benefits everyone involved. Possible collaboration strategies were discussed in the Tourism, Leveraging Your Localness, and Social Media workshops.

“I’m envisioning an ad,” mused Local First Arizona Director Kimber Lanning during the Leveraging Your Localness Workshop, “it has a mountain in the middle, with a ski shop on one side and a brewery or pup on the other, and the ad says ‘We got you coming and going.’ This full page ad, targeted at ski visitors from the Phoenix metro area, will promote specifically two local businesses at half the cost, plus draws attention to what the whole Pinetop-Lakeside community has to offer.”

This is just one example that came up of how local businesses in a rural community can really come together in a collaborative effort. For each seminar, the room was buzzing with interesting ideas for local business collaboration, we are excited to see what the Pinetop-Lakeside region comes up with!

Are you interested in hiring Local First Arizona to teach workshops in your community? Contact info@localfirstaz.com or 602-956-0909 ext. 1.

Posted in Businesses, Northern Arizona, Rural Arizona | Leave a comment

5 Reasons Ajo is Paradise for Outdoor Enthusiasts

If you’ve never taken the time to stop in Ajo, Arizona, you don’t know what you’re missing. Home to 4,000 people and only one stoplight, Ajo is a place to slow down and enjoy life. You could say it’s a small town with a huge backyard. Which makes it a perfect staycation destination for anyone who likes to spend time in the great outdoors.

Here are 5 reasons why Ajo is paradise for outdoor enthusiasts:

1. Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument

Organ PipePhoto via Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument

Ajo is the closest community to one of Arizona’s many natural treasures, Oran Pipe Cactus National Monument. From the National Park Service: “Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument is the site of cultural resources that reflect long, widespread and diverse occupations by American Indian, Mexican, and European groups. The intersection of these three cultures is significant archaeologically, geographically, and internationally. Evidence of these cultures still remains today, and as you explore the monument, one cannot help but imagine what life was like living in the Sonoran Desert.”

2. Brand New Mountain Bike Trail Maps

Ajo Mountain Bike

Be the first to celebrate the launch of Ajo’s new mountain bike trail maps. Ajo is located at the heart of the Sonoran desert and has miles of some of the best mountain biking trails in Southern Arizona.

3. Clear Skies

Organ Pipe SkiesPhoto via Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument

The unpolluted skies have attracted countless astronomy buffs and stargazers. Peer through massive telescopes and enjoy educational programs and Native American exhibits at nearby Kitt Peak National Observatory.

4. Hiking & Camping Galore

ajo hikingPhoto via Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument

Ajo is surrounded by 12 million acres of public and tribal land waiting to be explored. You can find your own little corner of the world to set up camp and enjoy the surroundings.

5. Natural Wonders

ajo sunrisePhoto via Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument

Splendor abounds in breathtaking vistas and vibrant sunsets. Situated in the Arizona Upland Subdivision of the Sonoran Desert, the area is home to more than 1,000 species of plants and animals, many unique to the area.

Do you have the travel bug now? Join us on our Explore Arizona Weekend Getaway to Ajo, Arizona, October 10 – 12! Let us be your tour guide as you explore the natural beauty that Ajo has to offer.

Posted in Exploring Arizona, Rural Arizona, Tucson & Southern Arizona | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Local First Arizona and LocalWork.com Partner on Local Online Jobs Board

local work logoLocal First Arizona and LocalWork.com have partnered on creating an online jobs board highlighting open positions at locally owned businesses in Arizona. The jobs board can be found on the Local First Arizona website by clicking on “Find” in the menu and selecting “Find Local Jobs.”

“We are constantly working to connect Arizonans with local businesses in order to create a more vibrant local economy and to spur local job growth,” said Local First Arizona Director Kimber Lanning. “We are proud to partner with LocalWork.com to better connect locals with available jobs right here in Arizona.

“It just made sense to partner with Local First Arizona on this project,” said Ryan Naylor, Founder and CEO of LocalWork.com. “Our purpose is to connect job seekers with local jobs, and we’ll be better able to meet this goal by working with Local First Arizona and their networks of local business owners and potential job seekers.

Local Work

A preview of the Local First Arizona jobs board powered by LocalWork.com

According to Forbes, the Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale metro area was ranked among the top five areas to find a job in the United States this fall, coming in at number four on the list. Forbes reports that 24% of employers in the metro area plan to hire this fall and that 7% plan to decrease their workforces for a net employment outlook of 17%. This is not far behind the top metro area for jobs this fall, the San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara metro area in California, which reports a net employment outlook of 20%.

“Arizona is a prime location for job creation and hiring right now, and this new partnership with LocalWork.com is especially important for keeping young talent and new college graduates here in Arizona,” said Lanning. “By showing Arizona’s young people that there are good jobs here and helping them connect to those jobs, we can better encourage them to keep their talents in Arizona and contribute to the local economy and the overall future of the state.

Businesses looking to post job listings on the Local Online Jobs Board can choose from a selection of plans, including a free plan that will list the job posting for seven days at no cost. Businesses can also select the Standard Plan for $50 that will post the job for 15 days, or the Featured Plan at $100 that will post the job for 30 days and includes a 10 applicant guarantee, featured promotion of the listing on LocalWork.com, and a dedicated account manager.

The Local Online Jobs Board can be accessed here: http://www.localwork.com/local-first/jobs

Posted in Greater Phoenix, Northern Arizona, Press Releases, Rural Arizona, Tucson & Southern Arizona | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

13 years of Celebrating the Green Chile in Southern Arizona

13th Annual Roasted Chile Festival
September 20th, 2014
9am to 3pm at Rincon Valley Farmers & Artisans Market
12500 East Old Spanish Trail, Tucson, AZ

13th Annual Roasted Chile Festival (1) The Rincon Institute invites you to their 13th Annual Roasted Chile Festival at the Rincon Valley Farmers & Artisans Market in Tucson, AZ.  On Saturday, September 20th from 9am to 3pm, you can find fresh roasted Arizona grown green chilies, chile ristras, locally grown pesticide-free and organic fresh produce and fruit, artisans and crafters, great food, a beer garden, kid’s activities, and live music by John Grant & the Guilty Bystanders and Johnny Bencomo. Bring the whole family for a fun filled day!

The annual Roasted Chile Festival has attracted as many as 2000 people who enjoy live music while supporting diverse artisans and farmers. Purchase green chilies grown locally here in Arizona including hatch and poblano chilies. Vendors will offer goods ranging from handmade quilts, aprons, handmade soap, handcrafted home décor, and fine furniture. The 13th Annual Roasted Chile Festival is sponsored by Coyote Creek.

The Rincon Valley Farmers & Artisans Market is located in the scenic Rincon Valley between Saguaro National Park Rincon Mountain District and Colossal Cave Mountain Park.  They are located about four miles east of the entrance to Saguaro National Park Rincon Mountain District along Old Spanish Trail and two miles west of Camino Loma Alta in and around the big historic green and white Barn. Visit their website www.rvfm.org or call (520)591-BARN (2276) for more information. Remember to support your local farmers and artisans by shopping the Rincon Valley Farmers & Artisans Market every Saturday from 8am to 1pm year-round. The market is a project of the Rincon Institute which is a non-profit conservation organization dedicated to protecting the natural resources of the Rincon Mountain District of Saguaro National Park, the Rincon Valley and the Cienega Corridor. Visit www.rinconinstitute.org for more information.

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The Heart of the Arts

ASU Gammage

Did you know Grady Gammage Memorial Auditorium is considered to be the last public commission of architect Frank Lloyd Wright? This historic theater known as The Heart of the Arts on the Arizona State University campus hosts many renowned performances. ASU Gammage has played a fundamental role in bringing world renowned acts and performances to the Valley and has helped shape the Valley arts scenes. On September 28th from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., you’re invited to take a rare glimpse into ASU Gammage and to celebrate its 50th Anniversary. Every hour, birthday cake and refreshments gammage tim trumblewill be served, and guests will have a chance to enjoy self-guided building tours or guided tours of the building and backstage. The Sunset Lobby will be filled with children’s activities and guests can enjoy films on the history of ASU Gammage, live performances and more. Tempe restaurants will be onsite offering free samples. Plus, community partners and arts groups will be onsite as well. Celebrate 50years with one of the crowning jewels of Tempe.

Click here to find out more about Gammage’s 50th anniversary celebrations.


Posted in Arts and Culture, Greater Phoenix, LFA Member Spotlight | Leave a comment

HomeStyle Galleries Hosts 80 Local Business Leaders in Tucson

15217621405_611c732d93_zThis month, HomeStyle Galleries hosted our September Mixer. With over eighty folks in attendance this was one of our biggest mixers yet. Luckily, Catherene Morton, the owner of HomeStyle had more than enough tables and chairs for all of us! HomeStyle specializes in quality pre-owned, refurbished, and new factory direct furniture out of their Wilmot and Ina store locations. In addition to being a committed Local First Arizona member, HomeStyle also supports several other great organizations in our community.   Great food and margaritas were provided by El Saguarito and a wonderful time was had by all making connections with new folks and reconnecting with old ones.

We had so much great news to share with the crowd!

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESThrough our partnership with Wist Office Products, Local First was able to award a grant of over $2,200 to support workforce development by Primavera Works. For every LFA member that shops with locally owned Wist Office Products, Wist rebates back a portion of all purchases to LFA that we award quarterly to a non-profit member. If you are currently a Wist customer, please let them know you are an LFA member so we can continue this great program. If you are not a Wist customer, check them out here!

We also talked about some of our “not to miss” upcoming programs –

  • Need to get up to speed on your membership benefits? Attend the next member 101 orientation September 25th, 10:00 AM – 10:45 AM. Register here.
  • Our next seminar is September 17th on How To Build a Bike Friendly Business. You could be sending signals that you are closed for business to cyclists. Register here to learn how to have happier employees and bring new customers to your door. The special seminar is FREE to attend but seats are limited and you must register in advance here.
  • Weekend getaway in Ajo. Don’t miss out on this fun trip.
  • Watch for other great events coming soon! Festival season is almost here and LFA will be part of lots of great events across Arizona.

Thank you so much to Arizona Beds, Balanced Bowenwork, Barbara McNichol, Tucson Originals and others for contributing raffle prizes!

Missed this one? Join us for the next Southern Arizona mixer in The Lost Barrio at Petroglyphs. This is one of Tucson’s “hidden gems” that is frequently written up in tour guides and flocked to by visitors, but unknown by many longtime residents. Come get found by other great local businesses with LFA in The Lost Barrio. Click here to RSVP!

Thank you to all in attendance:

A&E Recycled Granite, L.L.C.
ABCO Solar Inc.
Alchemista Aromatherapy Sanctuary & Spa
AnchorwaveArizona Beds
Arizona Imprintables
Arizona Pest Control
Balanced Bowenwork
Bancapital Home Loans
Barbara McNichol Editorial
Borderlands Brewing Company
Centra Realty
Community Renaissance
Connect Coworking
D&D Pinball
Dawghouse Studios
Dependable Personnel, Inc.
Desert Diamond Casino
Edible Baja
Etherton Gallery
Floor & Decor
Fox Tucson Theatre Foundation
Gallo Quiroz Photography
HomeStyle Galleries
Jeff Harman Astrological Consulting
Jennifer Mead Creative
JNR Networks
Julie Originals
KXCI Community Radio 

Lady Joan’s Travel & Boutique
LegalShield Independent Associate
LifeDonorUSA Foundation
Many Hands Artist Cooperative
Mesch Clark & Rothschild Attorneys
Mobile CI – Digital Marketing
Oro Valley Voice
Pilster Partners LLC
Pima County Economic Development & Tourism
Primavera Works
Pure Hart LLC
Sage Payment Solutions
Shoulder to Shoulder Computer Training & Consulting
Sky’s Sunlight LLC
Solar Solution AZ
Sustainable Tucson
The Running Shop
Tucson Jewish Community Center
Visit Tucson
Wallace Physical Therapy
Wellness Key Chiropractic
Western Sky Communications
Wist Office Products 

Posted in Local First Movement, Tucson & Southern Arizona | Leave a comment

Recap: LFA’s First Member Mixer in Payson

Just a few short weeks ago, Local First Arizona held its first mixer in Payson at the KRIM 20140828_183424and KMOG radio facilities and what a warm welcome we had!  We were able to meet many of the KRIM staff along with business owners from nearly 20 local businesses from Payson, Rim Country and northern Arizona. With members coming from Camp Verde, Prescott Valley, Strawberry, Pine, Phoenix and Payson, we had a diverse group and had a great time getting to know each other. We cannot leave out the amazing dinner prepared by local caterer, Susie Q’s BBQ,  who did an amazing job with smoked BBQ for the group (we loved the to-go plates!). Huge thanks go out to all who were able to attend and to our gracious hosts, KRIM, who are great supporters of the Local Movement in northern Arizona.

20140828_183320During the event, Margaree Bigler and Thomas Barr of Local First Arizona talked about recent LFA activities across the state as well as some of it’s recent and upcoming activities in Payson and statewide.  Hot topics were the recent Rural Policy Forum held in early August in Globe, Miami, that many guests had attended. We also talked about the Local Movement, and how northern Arizona businesses could take advantage of upcoming LFA events like the Certified Local Fall Festival in November and Buy Local Month coming up in December. We were excited to learn about many events being held in the Payson area, such as the Payson Pro Rodeo Committee 4th Annual Chili Cook Off and Salsa Tasting, coming up on Saturday, September 13th.

In attendance were the following locally owned businesses:

20140828_183335Fossil Creek Creamery
Cliff Castle Casino Hotel
Tonto Community Concert Association
Rim County Regional Chamber of Commerce
Payson Pro-Rodeo Committee
Susie’s Q Barbeque
and many more!

Stay tuned for our next northern Arizona mixer in Flagstaff at Brandy’s Bakery and Restaurant on September 16th – RSVP here!




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