Tuesday, February 23, 2010

28 Reasons I Love Hamilton... Reason 23

Why write 28 reasons I love Hamilton?

1. Hamilton is a CITY.
2. Location
3. Size (population)
4. Scale
5. Creativity and the arts
6. Buildings
7. Nature

8. Film industry
9. Markets and restaurants
10. Trails, paths, and running routes
11. Gore Park
12. Climate
13. Safety
14. Landscapes and views
15. The ability to live modestly
16. Sports teams
17. Schools
18. Entertainment options
19. The churches and (other faith groups)
20. Festivals and events
21. History
22. Waterfront

23. The small businesses

For me, one of the best defining features of both large cities and small towns are the small businesses. (For example, if you're in St. Thomas, check out Farmgate Markets. Here, check out Reardon's)

When they're good, they're passionate, and they love what they do.... it's great.

However... middle-sized suburbs have a lot less of those. With the exception of a few master-planned "new urbanist" communities, most development of the past several decades is residential development with de-centralized shopping centres. More recently, power centres have been the normal model. Either way, these fill up with chain businesses. The smaller businesses around most of those places tend to be very high-end and/or very specialized.

Some like that just fine. I don't. And that's why I like Hamilton and the small businesses we have.

Cities and small towns get the 'small business' deal most of the time. And we have truly fantastic small businesses in Hamilton. Passionate small business owners - in all areas.

So you can get Miller's shoes on James or on the Mountain. You can take a walk in Dundas or Durand and enjoy the shops. Even in areas that are a lot lower-income, there's great small businesses - whether you're on Barton, Cannon, Kenilworth or the International Village.

And we don't ONLY have small businesses that cater to luxury markets... they're accessible to the lower and middle class. And the size of the city means I've gotten to know a lot of people at the places I shop.

So I get (my few) art supplies from a couple different stores.

We walk over to get crickets and silkworms for Rob Wilco at the Reptile Store and ask them all our questions.

If I need something for a bike, I know four or five places and people I can call. (My own bike went to someone who needed it more, but I'd like to eventually get another one).

My coat's missing a couple buttons right now - but that's OK, because I know where to go on Ottawa Street - and they also have great places to get tacos, children's clothing and antiques (and more!)

I can go to the market and know where to get each item, because each person has their specialty.

Last year at the One of a Kind Craft show in Toronto we got some great samples from Saigon Soul Food-- and then realized the company was another small business from Hamilton. Fantastic.

A lot of people love what they do - and it makes their business unique. I can talk about three or four different people's coffee businesses and how they each are passionate about what they do and each have a unique product.

And I'm not much of a consumer. I don't have a great disposable income, nor do I buy a lot of anything. I just get out there and started buying a little here and a little there...and became part of the conversation. It's not hard to do... and it's well worth it.

1 comment:

chRistine said...

i've really enjoyed your look at hamilton. knowing hamilton a bit, it's been an interesting overview and re-education :)