By Tara Mazzarella, Account Coordinator
Six states, 22 cities, 40 interviews and over 2,000 miles were traveled on our sixth annual road trip. With a fitting name the “Main Streets Make Us Better” tour, the purpose of our travel were to interview business owners and community advocates. These interviews will help us create content to further educate communities about the importance and strong economic impacts that America’s Main Streets - and the small businesses you find on them – have on local economies. And we couldn't have done it without the support of co-sponsors STIHL Inc and FCA US LLC as well as associate sponsors Tire Pros and PPG Pittsburgh Paints.
After picking up our decked out RAM ProMaster City, graciously provided by FCA US LLC and RAM Trucks, the Independent We Stand team met up in Detroit, Michigan, on June 28 to begin our five day journey.What we discovered in Detroit, was a degree of spirit and optimism that is an inspiration to all.
As many, if not all, of the 40 independent business owners we interviewed will tell you - owning an independent business is truly the American dream. Consequently, these small independent businesses have become the backbone of our communities and our local and national economy.
After Detroit, we headed to Cleveland, Ohio where we discovered three organizations and companies, that had revitalized downtown spaces, now known as the 5th Street Arcades and the Small Box District, by making them suitable and functional spaces for local independent business owners.
On the third day, we made our way to the Philly metro area, visiting a long time STIHL dealer, and a FCA US LLC BusinessLink dealer, a new Tire Pros dealer, an American cabinet maker, and a craft brewery.
As we had begun to forget what day of the week it was, we headed to Montclair Main Street in New Jersey, on July 2. Montclair, New Jersey had recently won the National Main Street Center’s Great American Main Street Award and there was an incredible amount of pride existing in the town.
Finally, we ended our last day in the Boston area of Massachusetts, meeting with a main street organization on the rise.
Throughout the week we tested our ability to shop, stay, eat and play local the entire time. We booked independent hotels and B&Bs; with more charm than your “local” Holiday Inn. We experienced craft breweries and what it means to be a “Locapour.” Finally, using the Independent We Stand mobile app we tried new restaurants, diners, and a juice bar.
Overall, the trip was a complete success and we can’t wait to share all of their stories throughout the remainder of this year.