by Kalen Ruiz | Featured Contributor
Writing for the “She Owns It” blog has been an amazing experience for me. Much to my surprise, I have been fortunate enough to have my blog posts retweeted to thousands of people all over the world. It’s surprising, because it seems that every month as my deadline approaches I panic about what the heck I’m going to write about, end up writing something on the fly with very little research or deep thought, and those are the posts that tend to get the most attention. This month, I am taking advantage of this wide audience to highlight an initiative that should be important to every single one of you.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve likely heard about a program called “Small Business Saturday”. Started by American Express in 2010, Small Business Saturday is celebrated every year on the Saturday after Thanksgiving, and is intended to promote small businesses across the country. Why support small businesses? Because chances are the hostess at that chain restaurant by the mall doesn’t know or care to know your name. Yes, there are 17 different tasting stations at that giant liquor store every Saturday, but do any of the employees bother to ask how you liked the Malbec with your pork tenderloin last weekend? And yeah, you can run in to that “charming” accessory store for a quick birthday gift, but I’ll bet that cute vintage shop across the street has a necklace that’s way cooler, not made in China and won’t fall apart in 6 months.
So please, go ahead and keep your Black Friday (and in some cases, Black Thursday). Go stand in line at Wal-Mart at 3:00am for the singing Elmo, or be one of the first 100 customers to get that door buster weed whacker for $15; we don’t want to interfere with your overindulgent consumerism rituals. But when the adrenaline has subsided, and you are out of your turkey coma, I encourage you to go out on Saturday, November 30th and discover those shops and restaurants that make your town special and unique. In addition to supporting the local economy in the most powerful way possible, you are enabling people like me to fulfill their dreams. It’s impossible to compete with the marketing and brand awareness of national and international chains. We rely on local publications, social media, and good old fashioned word-of-mouth to spread our message. And when one of us “makes it big”, we all cheer. Sam Walton had to start somewhere, but in the words of Herb Brooks “Their time is done… this is your time. Now go out there and take it.” On November 30, help those small businesses have their time.
Kalen Ruiz – Vintage Treasure Hunter, Bess & Evie’s Vintage – Fort Worth, Texas
Kalen Ruiz is a native Texan who discovered the exciting world of vintage clothing during her days as a Fashion Merchandising Major at Texas Christian University. Flea markets, thrift stores, estate sales, and the antique/junk/vintage shop across the street from campus became part of her regular rotation of destinations on the never-ending hunt for vintage treasures. Her trips back home to El Paso would inevitably consist of digging through closets at her parents’ and grandparents’ homes to see what might be found there. Cowboy boots of every color and skin from her dad’s days at the Tony Lama Boot Factory were sadly not in her size, but the array of western belts were quickly snatched up and taken back to Fort Worth. Her grandma Evie’s closets produced a sea of tulle and taffeta that were her aunt’s prom dresses from the 1960s and a collection of coats that sadly Grandma was not ready to part with yet. Grandma Bess, being Scottish had countless handkerchiefs and wool tartans made in to dresses and skirts to add to the treasury. After a career in buying, merchandising, E-commerce and operations with a national home furnishings retailer, Kalen pursued her dream and opened Bess & Evie’s Vintage, a vintage clothing boutique in Fort Worth, Texas in May 2010. Her favorite part of the job is still the thrill of the hunt, but also loves helping people find their own treasures in her boutique.