Where are you planning to purchase your pumpkins, chrysanthemums and apples this fall? As autumn is now officially upon us, many folks choose to embrace the season by buying autumn-related products for cooking and decorating.
There are several choices available when looking to shop for these items. You can fight the traffic and stand in long lines at the big name superstores, grow your own if so inclined or visit a farm or produce stand.
The national chain stores sell what you're looking for, but you may have to wade through the toothpaste, T-shirts, motor oil, cat food and about a thousand other shoppers to find it - that is, after you battle for a parking space.
As for growing your own, after a difficult and particularly wet growing season this year, at least in my neighborhood, the eagerly anticipated fall harvest just didn't happen ... or was it because the deer and groundhogs decided our garden was an all-you-can-eat salad bar? Somehow, three or four of our pumpkins survived the feeding frenzy and will be proudly displayed and eaten this month. Point being, the usual homegrown stuff is just scarce these days.
As a long-time advocate of supporting small businesses, I take pleasure in venturing out some October Sunday afternoon to locate a roadside stand. Our area is fortunate to be agriculturally rich with local growers anxious for us to sample the fruits of their labor. Even though the weather was gray and drizzly last weekend, we drove toward Hartford in search of apples and pumpkins.
Last year we bought them from an orchard owner on Highway 7 and were delighted to see that he was still in business this year. As we wandered through the orchard picking apples and chatting last year, the grower explained he's been struggling to stay in business because of the pressures of increasing competition, costs and regulations.
With a great attitude and a broad smile, he continues to work hard with hope of staying in business for another year. We bought a peck of apples, three potted chrysanthemums, two pumpkins and a cup of steaming apple cider from him and wished him well.
It is essential for us to carry on the tradition of independent supply and demand.
The United States of America was built on capitalism (defined by Merriam-Webster as ''an economic system characterized by private or corporate ownership of capital goods . . . determined mainly by competition in a free market''). Our country has survived and thrived in part because of independent businessmen and women with a dream and the ambition to take a chance. From the colonists in the 1700s who fished, spun homegrown cotton into textiles and farmed tobacco to today's ''mom and pop'' stores that fight to stay alive, small businesses can survive only with the support of their neighbors. That means you and me.
There are lots of advantages to buying from small businesses over big chain stores. According to www.entrepreneur.com, the top three reasons people shop their local merchants are because they want to support the community, the local merchants are more conveniently located and because the service is more personal than at the larger chains. It's what our country is based on and it's the right thing to do.
So, as you're deciding where to buy the apples to make your family's favorite pie this fall, remember that your local farmers and merchants are dependent upon your support.
Weatherman is a Trumbull County resident. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.