Wow! What a trip. Five cities in five days. 1,600+ miles. 14 - 16 hour days. Raleigh. Charleston, Savannah. Jacksonville. Tampa/St. Petersburg. And would do it all again in a heart beat.
It was hard work and a grueling travel schedule, but we would do it all again because it was inspiring to get out into this great country and talk to business owners. To hear the enthusiasm in their voices as they describe there piece of the American dream. To see the gleam in there eyes as they show you around there pride and joy. To hear the emotion in their voices as they share the struggles of the past few years.
Was it hard to buy only local? Not too hard. Obviously finding indie food was easy. There are lots of great indie restaurants out there from fine dining to diners, drive-ins and dives and everything in between. Finding independent hotels was a bit more challenging but doable. Fuel for the car was the biggest challenge. We were on fumes more than once when we'd finally come across a independent gas station. Not too many of those around any more.
We had a great time and have plans to do it again and again. We'd like to say a special thanks all the merchants we interviewed and to the the fine folks at Shop Local Raleigh, Low Country Local First, Buy Local Savannah,Go Lo Jacksonville and LocalShops1.com. Without their help it wouldn't have been possible. And we'd like to thank the crew back at the IWS offices. Joe, Terry, Erin, Kate, Katherine, Matt, Dave, Brenda and Tiffany - you guys rock!