Living Small

at 11:35 PM

I'm not sure when it all started. It's something that crept up on us. All I know is my partner Jerry and I have become ardent supporters of small business.

When we travel, we seek out that oh-so-charming bed & breakfast. At the Russian River, we stayed at a Victorian home. The innkeepers, Bob & Betsy, hosted breakfast each morning in their wood-paneled dining room.

At home, we shop at the farmers market, not the Safeway two blocks away. Yes, it takes more effort and planning, but what a world of difference. Behold Mary's air-chilled chicken versus Tyson's frozen variety. Behold Sunrise Farm's tomatoes versus the water-laden offering at the supermarket.

Fresh local produce does cost more, but the good news is the price is coming down rapidly as more and more shoppers vote with their dollars in favor of quality food grown in an eco-friendly way.

Our go-to restaurant for Southeast Asian food is Champa Garden in East Oakland. This restaurant is located in a neighborhood where many Vietnamese and Lao families live. The cuisine reflects the cultures of the neighborhood, the owners told us. Music to our ears!

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Now that we've converted, we intend to keep going. We fly smaller, discount airlines. We've opened accounts at local credit unions. Whenever and wherever possible, we choose the small business alternative.

Before the rise of corporate America, before every aspect of our lives became the subject of Wall Street profits, we were a nation of small business owners. We knew who baked our bread, delivered our milk, picked our fruit.

With a little effort on everyone's part, we can bring back those halcyon days.

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With a Perspective, this is Clarence Wong.

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