Posts tagged ‘values’

July 27, 2011

You’re the Catalog Buyer. What Do You Like?

Cute silver penny farthing bike necklace.Pretend you’re designing the future Bike Style Spokane catalog. What would you want to see in it?

As we look for additional products to add to the mix, we’ve identified some ideas and need your help as our online focus group to tell us which ones are worth hunting down. We just asked this in a much shorter version on Facebook too; no harm done if you answer in both spots.

As always, we’re looking for things not readily available in local bike shops; we cater to a more specialized/niche market and have to find manufacturers willing to supply our very small volume. They also need to fit the values/philosophy outlined in Thoughts on Shopping and Shopping for a Better World: Made as close to home as possible with components and a manufacturing process that keep health and sustainability in mind.

Some of the items aren’t for riding per se–they would answer the question, “What do I buy as a gift for that friend of mine who rides a bike when I don’t know what she/he needs for riding?”

Related Reading

July 22, 2011

Bike-Friendly Restaurants

Yesterday I had lunch with a friend in downtown Spokane. When she asked where we should go for lunch, I suggested two places–both specifically because they have a bike rack in front or within the same block.

Now, I have various coping mechanisms when I go to a business that doesn’t offer a bike rack. But when I have the choice to support a business with my dollars I’ll support one that recognizes a bike rack is a real drawing card for customers, whether they installed it themselves or were just smart enough to pick a good location or ask the building owner to put one in.

Bike racks at the Elk Restaurant, Browne's Addition, Spokane, WA

How many cars could you park in this spot? One. How many customers would you want if you owned that restaurant?

It’s a cost-effective drawing card, too. Did you know you can park anywhere from 8-16 bikes in the space of one car? If you owned a store or restaurant how many customers would you rather have–16 or one? That’s why the Elk in Browne’s Addition asked the city to remove a parking spot and install racks, then threw a big party to celebrate. As I pointed out in the post on Bikespedition #1 to Carnegie Square, biking customers can be our own mini-stimulus for the local economy–so easy to stop and shop lots of places!

Now don’t get me wrong. I do actually drive places! And I’m always happy to find a parking spot when I do. But if 8-16 of you happened to ride your bikes on the one day that I drive, think how much easier it is for me to score that spot. And if I’m one of the 8-16 biking and you’re the driver, you’re welcome. We’re all in it together, after all.

Since a spot for treats is an essential part of any good Bikespedition, I’d love to get your recommendations for restaurants, coffee shops, and delis that have a bike rack, whether they’re in Spokane or somewhere in the area that could make a nice destination for a ride. If you’re the restaurant owner feel free to tell us why you’re bike-friendly.

Your Turn

What are some of your favorite places to eat that have a bike rack available?

July 15, 2011

Thoughts on Shopping

A “buy local/buy good stuff/buy from real people” unmanifesto

This site represents the basis for a community of women who bike with style and who support each other. I’m filling the toolkit over time with a few things I hope will help.

1) It’s a blog that I hope brings you value and builds the community of women riding bikes in the Spokane region (and elsewhere).

Read, enjoy, comment, and share your stories. I love riding my bike and writing; the blog is a natural extension of my life.

2) It represents a specific set of values and philosophy because at the end of the day how you spend your dollars will always represent a decision about your priorities. My approach (which got more than a little help from my thrifty Depression-era parents):

  • It’s entirely possible to take care of many of your style and comfort needs with a trip to a local thrift shop and a little ingenuity. Living well does not require excessive consumerism.
  • Know where and how things are made before you spend your hard-earned money on them. This doesn’t reward impulse shopping–it rewards homework and mindful decision-making.
  • Be willing to pay more for something well-made that will last longer. Your cost per wearing is far lower than if you buy cheap crap that wears out quickly, and that extra cost most likely also represents a living wage for the person who made your purchase and better quality materials that will hold up to repeated wearings.
  • If you buy something you don’t think looks absolutely great on you, down the road you’ll pass over it every time you go to the closet. Save your money for the cute stuff and the classics. Since you’ll wear them more, you want good quality, and if you buy fewer things you can afford better ones; see bullet point above.

3) If you’re in the Spokane region you will see me put on an occasional shopping event or take wares to a neighborhood street fair to offer up products that the local bike shops don’t carry. (I’m not trying to compete with the shop owners–I consider them friends. I’m trying to grow their potential market!)

Some of the items I’ve found may be available in your local bike or recreational clothing store; I haven’t spotted them in Spokane.

I think you should buy local whenever possible, but if you can’t find it locally and I’ve linked to it here, I hope you’ll buy through me. Some of the links may someday represent an affiliate relationship through Amazon or with a specific manufacturer and your purchase helps support our mutual quest. Down the road you’ll see an e-commerce function on the site too; I have this great inventory and if you can’t wait for the next event I want to be able to fulfill your personal quest right away.

I only feature items I think are useful and/or beautiful that will help you bike in style and comfort. For more on my philosophy and the values I bring to product and partner selection, see Shopping for a Better World.

June 16, 2011

Shopping for a Better World

Text: Made in the USAThe longer I live and the more I learn about how the world works, the more important it becomes to me to pay attention to the impacts my personal decisions have and how those represent my values.

Once upon a time I carried around a little booklet, Shopping for a Better World. It ranked companies on a variety of factors, for example, whether they hired and promoted women and members of underrepresented racial/ethnic groups or produced tobacco products.  (I’ve now found the online version, the Better World Shopper, but it isn’t going to rate the tiny companies with which I’m connecting; I don’t agree 100% with their issues in any case.)

On my personal blog I’ve noted the importance of eating local food as another example of how our dollars reflect our values.

Today we have Google to give us more information than we can make sense of and everyone brings individual priorities and filters. As I’ve gone in search of products that bring together style, comfort, and utility I’m also looking at the values expressed by the companies with which I choose to do business.

Some of those values are outlined in my Thoughts on Shopping page. Inspired by a post on Pedaler Clothing about buying clothing made in the US, I’m listing more of my values here so you know the decision-making filters that factor in when I’m bringing products in for a Bike Style Treats & Shopping Event. They’re very much in line with the new Sustainable Business Network forming in Spokane, which Bike Style Spokane is joining.

  • I constrain the geographic/fuel footprint as much as possible with this hierarchy: Buy locally, in Washington, in the West, in the US.
  • In trying to buy as locally as possible I am looking both at the cost of energy to bring goods to me and at the wages and working conditions of the people who make the product.
  • I look for products that have a lower environmental and health impact vs. a higher impact wherever possible. I’m not able to do a sophisticated cradle-to-cradle analysis to make sure everything is 100% recycled/recyclable, as one example, but will share whatever I’m able to find out about the product ingredients.
  • What are the trade-offs between environmental impact and functionality for cycling? As one example, organic cotton sounds nice but when it gets wet it stays wet and you end up chilled, and you should be aware of the exorbitant amount of water it takes to grow any cotton crop, organic or not.
  • Does the company use some of its profits to support nonprofits, the biking industry, and/or their own local communities?
  • Given the nature of the products I am seeking they are made by very small start-ups, specifically because they are filling niches ignored by the major manufacturers. I’m not anti-big-business but I do like dealing directly with the real owner/manufacturer/Chief Everything Officer.

As a result of all of these factors I know I will pay more and I do so willingly.

Cottage industries and really small businesses cost “more” per item as suppliers–when you’re not doing real full-cost accounting from the standpoint of public policy and societal benefit.

That “cheap” shirt you bought doesn’t have a family-wage job or the cost of benefits embedded in its seams, making it very expensive indeed if you factor in the quality of the lives involved. When you buy another offshore shirt, you export another job that used to support people here.

I’m not the least bit xenophobic or bigoted; I just want the country I love to thrive and to be able to provide people with decent jobs.

As you can see, a checklist doesn’t really cover all the nuances. I will do the best I can to vote with my wallet.

Since issues emerge every day and our understanding continues to expand, I appreciate anything you can tell me about the values you bring to your shopping and what can help me do an even better job of living the values I bring to mine.

Tags: ,
%d bloggers like this: