Why Shop Local?

The big cry right now for lots of people is "shop local!" ...but why? If Big Business donates thousands of dollars to a local charity and a small business barely squeaks by but does nothing to contribute to their community, why shop with them over big business? Shopping local is great but it's better when it means something.  I wanted to take this opportunity to tell you the story of my business and the businesses around me and what it means for us when you shop local.

This is The Gaslight, a tavern my husband and I bought 4 years ago. 

It used to be run by drug dealers and murderers until the FBI and the DEA came in and threw everyone in prison. 

It was closed for 8 years after that, until new people came in and tried to start over. It didn't work. The bad element never went away. Drug dealers still wanted to hang out and after a year, it closed. Then somebody else came in and tried it. It didn't work. They kicked out the bad element and there was no one left to buy anything. They closed after 3 months.

My husband and I are apparently crazy, so we thought we'd give it a try.

We decided if it had even a chance of success, we had to change everything and we had to do it with almost no money. Because we're crazy.

We used a lot of blue we called our bar "Blue."

This is Blue.

Blue has been here for 4 years. My husband and I work almost every night and we don't let drug dealers hang out. Not even in the parking lot.

These are a couple of our customers.  They work for the local public television station.  The guys behind them are from a local church. They just finished a community clean-up because...

If you're going to locate your business in a struggling neighborhood, you should sponsor clean-ups. So we do. Every month, April through October.

We were incredibly excited when the guys from Excel and Urban Artifacts decided to take an old boarded up building down the street...

And convert it into retail shops, artist studios and two art galleries...

I liked this idea so much, that later on I decided to locate my own store right here!

My husband liked it so much that he decided to locate James McGhee Photography here:

Urban Artifacts and Excel decided to give us money to help with the neighborhood clean-ups. With more neighbors and more financial support we decided to take an empty lot...

And start a community garden.

When a business that had been here forever decided to close, we were disheartened.  Until somebody came in and opened the amazing Broken Tree Coffee in it's place! 

This is a mural in progress on Broken Tree's outside wall...The owner works on this in between running his shop, being a father and husband and helping out with the community garden and neighborhood clean-ups.

Meanwhile, across the street, we were looking at this...

Which was pretty depressing...


The Main Statement opened! Owned by a young couple with a brand new baby, they carry work from a large variety of local artists and help out with neighborhood clean-ups and the community garden.

Do you know what would be really great next to The Main Statement? An artist studio and Russ Joseph opened one...

He keeps late hours and is helping us form a neighborhood watch program. His gallery compliments the already existing Backspace Collective, a "space for contemporary art and ideas."

In the meantime, the local karaoke bar shut down, leaving an empty storefront in the middle of all of our hard work....


Pitch Karaoke opened! The guys from Pitch not only help out with the clean-ups and the garden, but they also raise money for cystic fibrosis and the local humane society!

With more and more businesses coming into the area, we took on a couple more projects...

 This corner needed some work...

So we're working on it...a little bit at a time...

These planters always end up neglected...

So we clean them up...

The more we all do, the more people seem to want to be a part of it...

Like Jessica Ball, from The Art Garage!
(photo via Peoria Life)

Jessica Ball and her family help with the clean-ups, the garden, the landscaping and recently adopted a dog  through Foster Pet Outreach.

With all of this activity, we decided to start The Renaissance Park Community Association - a group of all of the volunteers, neighbors and businesses that are working so hard not only to build their own projects but to build this neighborhood into a community we can all be proud of. Other businesses in the area that have contributed to all of this hard work include the amazing neighborhood staple, The Costume Trunk and Mr.G's (now owned by the same people who brought you One World Cafe!).  We've even attracted help from businesses outside of the neighborhood, like Heading Om Yoga and Top Hat Productions!

And me? I volunteer for the local humane society, Foster Pet Outreach, Crittenton Centers and am one of the founders of The Renaissance Park Community Association. Don't be surprised to find me picking up trash and pulling weeds at midnight around here - surprisingly, it relaxes me.

So this year, when you think about shopping local, think about why...and hopefully you'll think about us!



Super simple pretty packaging

We like pretty packaging at Hey Lola, but we also like to keep our packaging pretty simple. Here's our simple solution to making a gift box just a bit prettier...a bit "giftier." 

Items needed:
Silk (or fabric) Hydrangeas
Satin Ribbon
Needle Nosed Pliers or Tweezers
Gift Boxes or Pillow Boxes

Pull your hydrangeas off of the plastic stem, leaving just the flower petals with the hole in the middle

Cut a length of ribbon long enough to wrap around your gift or pillow box and tie in a bow

Use your pliers or tweezers to push both ends of the ribbon through the center of the flower

You should have a large loop, with the ends of the ribbon coming through the front of the flower.

Pull your loop over your gift box...

Tie it in a bow and place a pretty gift card under the ribbon...

This makes great packaging for wedding favors, too!



The Grinch of Halloween

Tonight, one of the bloggers I follow posted something about how her son was traumatized when he went up on someone's porch to ask for candy and the woman's dog rushed at him.  She was obviously upset, said that her son was so scared that he just wanted to go home and that the "stupid lady ruined trick or treating for him!" Apparently the lady apologized and said that she was expecting her husband instead of a child dressed as a hot dog. The blogger thought it should have been obvious that it was a small child rather than her husband, because it's Halloween.

My first thought was..."But you came to her house...uninvited..."

I don't have any candy and I don't need a vacuum.
(Image via The Grindstone)

And then I realized that that line of thinking doesn't work when it comes to Halloween.  Halloween is all about strangers coming to your house uninvited, and it's supposed to be perfectly ok. 

Except for some of us, it's just not.

Before I go into why some people...and by some people, I mean me...don't like Halloween, let me say that I don't think it's ok to open your front door and let your dog go rushing at whoever happens to be standing there. It's not safe for the guy on your porch, it's not safe for your dog, and it's bad manners. 

Polite dog = better than rude dog.

My husband and I have 5 dogs and we don't have kids. Between us, we own three businesses and we work at each one.  One of those businesses is a bar, which means being social is part of our job description. We love it and we love our customers. But, because we have a job where we're extremely social all of the time, our home life is sacred. It's not for being social. It's for our family to be alone and spend time with each other, without the outside world. We very rarely have people into our home, and we prefer it that way.

And along comes Halloween...

We don't celebrate Halloween because it's truly just not something that appeals to us. We like bike riding and bird watching and scuba diving and scary movies and Thanksgiving and birthdays and I actually LOVE dressing people up in costumes for special events...but personally celebrating Halloween...not so much. We also don't encourage trick or treaters because it gets our dogs worked up.

"I think there might be small children dressed as Minions on our porch. Please hold me."
(Image via Imgur)

 Every year we turn off our porch lights and hope that kids won't come up to our house. Because we don't celebrate Halloween, we're usually caught off guard by how early it starts, don't have our light off on time (which we prefer to keep on for safety reasons) and we end up with kids on our porch, knocking on our door, while the dogs freak out because someone is on our porch (we have not trained them out of this behavior, because we like to be warned when anyone is on our property and the dogs are a deterrent to crime). 

You guys. I am totally freaking out. You don't understand. This is not ok. 
(Original source unavailable, image traced via TinEye)

When we turn the light off, we still end up with kids (and quite a few uncostumed adults with pillow cases, but that's another story...) on our porch, knocking on our door. 

So we turn off all of the downstairs lights in the house...and we still have kids on our porch. 

 Tonight, I spent Halloween with our porch barricaded, sitting in the dark, counting down the minutes until all of the kids had to go to bed.

 My dogs are traumatized by both Halloween and the 4th of July - every single year. They're my very least favorite holidays. 

I guess my point is - not everyone thinks about kids coming around asking for candy. If you're not a parent and not into Halloween, you don't prepare for it and you don't expect it. The only reason we prepare for it is because it's a bad day at our house. I can see how someone might have opened her door expecting her husband instead of a young kid. I agree that dogs should be trained not to come anywhere near the door when it's opened, for both their safety and the safety of others, but I don't think it's fair to call the woman stupid. 

She just might not have been thinking , "oh yeah, Halloween!" 

We like to leave our porch light on for safety and it's irritating to me that we have to turn it off for a holiday that we don't celebrate. I'm sure other people feel the same way. I hope other people feel the same way.

If no one else on the planet feels this way...
...that's so messed up, man.
Seriously. *

 I don't think kids are stupid for dressing up and wanting to go trick or treating. I don't think they're stupid when they come up to my darkened house. Kids in halloween costumes are adorable and I love that they love it as much as they do. Halloween is awesome for kids and parents should encourage things that are awesome for kids.

Look at this little peanut...HE'S A PEANUT!!!! So cute I want to die. He deserves all of the candy you will allow him to have. From someone else's house. Not mine. Your peanut is adorable but I don't have any candy and I really need you to get off my porch.
(Image via Halloween Express)

It's just weird to feel like a bad guy because you don't celebrate a holiday and you don't want people coming up on your porch for 2-3 hours straight.

I know. I'm the Grinch of Halloween.
(image via Christmas TV History)

So for next year, I will barricade myself in a little earlier so there's no confusion, and hopefully you guys will head to my neighbors house instead and I can admire all of your little peanuts via your facebook posts.

Except for the un-costumed grown up with the pillow case. You are NOT a little peanut and I hope someone gives you a caramel onion.

Eat it. Seriously. It's probably delicious.
It's definitely not an onion. Unless it is.
(image via Del's Popcorn Shop)

* Turns out that this guy hates Halloween more than anybody. Awesome.