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11 Dec

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A Sense of Community (not the TV show)

6 Dec

This holiday season – and the local activities that revolve around it – has me thinking a lot about community.  Dictionary.com defines community as “a social group of any size whose members reside in a specific locality, share government, and often have a common cultural and historical heritage.”   In this instance, I’m mostly thinking of the “specific locality” type.

We live in a relatively small town here in Northeast Ohio. Medina has a population of just roughly 27,000.  However, Medina does a wonderful job encouraging community, and getting people to engage with each other in a civic way.  The downtown has been lovingly preserved, with nice shops, restaurants and events that often draw good crowds.

Medina’s picturesque downtown

We are very fortunate to be in an area where the idea of “community” has been taken so seriously by our town’s leaders, and that there are several organizations that work very hard all year round to ensure it stays that way.  From our Main Street Medina association to the Medina County Historical Society, there are many people who are passionate about keeping our town – and our sense of community – alive and thriving.  I believe this is a concept that tends to feed on itself.  When just a few committed people really work at that sense of community – holding events, preserving history, encouraging downtown commerce – the more other people willingly start to appreciate and work to perpetuate these ideals.

Candlelight Walk 2012

As I’ve now been a resident of Medina for a little over two years, I’ve definitely come to appreciate – and therefore more frequently attend – the events they hold in the downtown area.  From the summer concerts in the park to the Candlelight Walk, I’ve happily enjoyed many activities that are unique to our town.  In turn, I’ve become more committed to wanting the downtown to keep thriving.  I attend the concerts, and make donations.  I patronize the restaurants on our town square.  I shop the wonderful, unique stores we have here.  I attend every Saturday Farmers’ Market that I can, and buy as much of my produce there as I’m able.  I’m really not having to go out of my way – or spend a lot more – to do all these activities; yet my hope is I’m helping to ensure that they will continue long into the future.

Medina Community Band concert in the town gazebo

Wherever you live, I encourage you to find a way to support your community.  Even if it’s just following the city’s Facebook page or Twitter feed, or eating a meal at the corner café versus the chain up the street, I think everyone can, at least in some small way, help to encourage their local community to thrive.  It just takes a little forethought.

Once you start, however, don’t be surprised if you find yourself getting more involved.  When you see what gems your own corner of the world has to offer, you just might become another passionate person who helps to keep that spirit of community alive.

Another great way to support our wider local community (the good old USA) is to buy USA made products!  Today’s holiday deal at miuscollection.com is sweaters!  All MiUS sweaters are 15% off, and enjoy free shipping on orders over $50.  Use code cozy12 at checkout.

The Adulteration of Thanksgiving

15 Nov

I don’t know about you….but I’ve been getting bombarded with commercials, catalogues, and flyers for “Black Friday” shopping.  But what struck me the most this year is NOT the crazy prices and deals but how many of the retailers have chosen to adulterate and morph “Thanksgiving” into a “Black Friday” extension by starting “early shopping hours” on Thanksgiving Day.  This truly saddens me as Thanksgiving is a holiday for giving thanks with your family and loved ones and now you will be caught between eating your piece of mom’s apple pie and and getting a piece of the deals from electronics or other imported goods those stores are offering.    The Huttington Post mentions how several petitions have been created on website Change.org suggesting that chains keep their doors shut on Thanksgiving. One petition from a Target employee who wanted the chain to remain closed on the holiday and avoid “Thanksgiving creep” had more than 148,000 supporters over the weekend, but yet Target like many of the other USA retailers chose to open their doors early to compete with this growing trend.  As a consumer and American, I see this as the epitome of commercialization of a great holiday, so I hope you think twice before leaving that football game on Thanksgiving to get those “deals” at the stores that are commercializing this holiday season to that point!   I am now done with my speech for today!  LOL

I actually deterred from my original post to add that speech.  Any-who…what I originally started writing this post about is a great “new trend” called Small Business Saturday.   You may have seen the logo in some of your local stores…Looks like this:

MiUS Collection is part of this effort to bring together consumers and shop your small businesses both locally and cyber. 🙂  This effort makes a great difference to small business many which in this economic climate have been suffering and some are at the brink of closing.   So…I saw this quote on Made in the USA challenge website…(BTW…you might want to take a look at that site for Made in the USA holiday gift ideas), and it really carried the message for small businesses.  So I am including it in today’s post:

I urge you this holiday, when you are going through your holiday gift list…Think Small, think Local and think USA made 😉  If anyone is looking for a holiday gift for idea, tomorrow’s post you will hear from my dear friend and author, Kelley Grealis, and she’ll talk about her novel “The Descendant.”   It’s a great read, and it’s a self-published in the $10-$15 range…once again supporting your local small business and authors 😉  I realize that I just gave another one of my Millie speeches!  Sorry…promise I will stick to my cute style boards, cute outfits and such on my next post.  LOL!

Let me know what you think.

It’s election day…and time to vote! (and a give-away!)

6 Nov

Here at M.i.U.S. we have different blog writers and different “behind the scenes” people if you will.  Some of us are pretty conservative.  Others a little more liberal.  Not only are we different in ethnicity and socio-economic status, we come from very different backgrounds.  Some of us have had some major “life experiences” while others have kind of had that “run of the mill” life.  Some of us have seen a lot of life…some not so much yet.  Some of us are mothers.  Some are not.  Some of us work outside the home, some are homemakers.  I mean…some of us drive foreign cars and some don’t…and the craziest??  Some of us have iPhones and some use Android.  Okay…I am poking some fun but…

We are all smart.

And we are all Americans.

And we should all be supporting this country, no matter what side of the fence you put your tent up on.  No matter your religion.  No matter how much money you make.  One of the only ways to support the U.S. is to speak your peace by voting.  And (of course) buying American made products.

I am not going to tell you who to vote for today.  Hell, I am not even crazy enough to tell you who I am voting for (I don’t believe this is the platform).  But I can tell you that I will vote.  I can tell you that I have seen economics being an issue.  I can tell you I have seen people lose jobs to overseas.  I can tell you I lost a friend in Afghanistan.  I can tell you about the state of my husband’s and father’s businesses.  I can tell you that no matter who you are…those things are, and should be, important to us all.

So go ahead and scream out loud today!  Put on a piece of Made in the USA clothing (you can find great stuff here), then put that “I Voted” sticker on…and be proud to be an American!

Happy Voting!!!

In honor of speaking out together today, we are offering free shipping on orders over $50.  Please use code SPEAKUP.

Oh…and if you love the flag shirt like I do (I totally had flag patterned converse when I was in middle school…do you see me holding the big “L” sign over my forehead right now??) you can get it free by doing a few small things…share our blog post on your facebook page and you get one entry.  Like our MiUS facebook page and get a second entry.  Comment here on the blog post and you have three entries for the American Flag t-shirt!  See it here.  Winner will be announced on Thursday.

Meet Carrie

11 Oct

My name is Carrie…I am a thirty-something stay at home mom.  I started staying home almost six years ago when we had our first daughter.  I have two girls and a little boy and a fantastic husband that makes the “stay at home” part of “mom” possible.  In my previous life, I mostly worked with children in before and after school programs and volunteer settings.  I also worked in corporate printing for a while.  I really always liked working with kids.  Not so much little kids, but older ones that understood, and even appreciated, my sarcasm.

I was honored when Millie approached me about writing for her MiUS blog.  I like writing…though I warn you.  My writing is a bit like me…a little all over the place.  One day I might tell you about how much it worries me that my daughter has a life threatening food allergy.  On another day, I might talk about how I would love to know the inner secrets of those moms that always look perfect and act kindly towards their kiddos.  Some days, I will toss a recipe your way…who doesn’t need something quick to eat for dinner?  A little mom encouragement?  Sure.  Maybe some religion and politics (gasp!) hey, I’m game for it all.

I believe in supporting the “Made in the USA” products.  I also believe in helping out the mom and pop stores of the world…I would much rather shop at the local hardware store than a Home Depot (not always easy anymore).  Going out to eat?  My husband and I steer away from chain restaurants and give our money to the independent guy as often as we can.  I also believe the differences in each one of us is what makes this country great.  I love that people agree –and disagree- with my beliefs.  That, my friends, is what makes the world go round!

My parents have always been very influential in my life.  They started with next to nothing, drained their savings to buy a house, always had a home cooked meal on the table, and taught me the importance of having a good work ethic.  They still practice all these beliefs today and help us teach our kids the same values.

While my mom has always crunched numbers for a living (I have never seen someone’s fingers fly across an adding machine so fast!), my father has worked for our family business (ok…it’s not a dynasty like my husband had hoped…it literally was my grandfather, dad and an uncle…in a one hundred year old building no less) since he started working …oh wait…he did work for McDonalds a hundred years ago, yes he still talks about it!  I thought it would be fun to ask him a few questions…but please…never ask him how much a McDonald’s hamburger was way back when…

 

Me:      When was Jig Grinding Service started?  Who started it and why?

Dad:    My father Bob Barker [before you get too excited, Bob Barker was my grandfather’s name.  However he was not THE Bob Barker- is THE Bob Barker still alive even?] started it in 1967.  Bob had always run the same machines for other companies so he decided to give it a try on his own…and succeeded.

Me:      Do you mostly manufacture/produce products made and used in the USA?

Dad:    Yes, most of the products I work on are made here.  With that being said, it doesn’t always mean that those products stay here.  They may go to another country for producing the parts for assembly and could possibly come back here for assembly.  I don’t usually have that information.  My company is a fourth or fifth tier, or even lower, so I just do my job and hopefully get paid.

Me:      Why have you stayed and taken over the family business?  Have you ever wanted to do anything else?

Dad:    I have been doing this since I was 17 years old.  Due to my father’s retirement, and then the economic collapse, my partner (brother) had to go elsewhere for us to survive.  It was a difficult decision but it was the correct one to make.  I enjoy the work that I do, but am also looking forward to the end of my career here, and health and work will make that decision for me.  I branched out into the political arena around 2001 and I also enjoy that work.

Me:      Has your involvement in local politics influenced you in your business decisions?

Dad:    No, not really.  If anything it has had the opposite effect.  Local governments need to look at their bottom line just as businesses have had to do.  I think you will be seeing more of that as the State and Federal government keep reducing funds back to cities.  Tough decisions need to be made so that the residents don’t have to pay an increase in taxes.  Cities need to get lean just as businesses have had to during the economic downturn.  I feel my business experience has helped me in understanding and making those decisions.

Me:      Do you believe in, and try to buy products only made in the USA?

Dad:    Yes, but it isn’t that easy anymore.  Many of the big manufacturers that produced tools for my industry have moved out of the USA or are no longer in business.

Me:      Did you feel kind of crazy “planking” for the photo?

Dad:    Yes, at first I wasn’t going to do it.  Hey, I am an old guy who doesn’t kid around much. But then I thought about it and it was for a friend who has some health issues and if it put a smile on her face one day then it was worth doing.  Would I do it again?  Absolutely!

Hmmm…doesn’t kid around much?  Here is my dad, or “gramps” riding a roller coaster with my oldest daughter…

Meet Millie

10 Oct

My Name is Millie Karkoff. I am the owner and founder of the MiUS (Made in the United States) Collection. I decided to start this collection on my way home from a family trip to Florida. While spending time with my family, the topic of “American” made goods came up several times during our conversations, and I realized that there was a gap between the supply and demand.

If you read the “About Us” page on our website, you will know that the idea of opening this boutique came from seeing our friends and family struggle as jobs were outsourced overseas, manufacturers closed, and the economy changed in their communities. As a mom, that hit home when thinking about the future of our children and nation…how will their world be in 20 or 30 years?  How will the United States of America be surviving in their time? As consumers, we’ve become accustomed to shopping without looking at labels or educating ourselves as to how these goods were made or where they came from, and the effects that has had on our planet, communities and our future

My husband and I are great supporters of local and American made goods.  We do our best to shop at our local markets and look at product labels, but still I have always found it hard to find “Made in the USA” items.   Most stores where we shop, be it local or the internet, have limited and sometimes lack luster selections of USA made merchandise, this is especially true when it comes to clothing.

Armed with a passion for supporting our country (and my love of fashion), I set out to help make a difference for our industries and communities by helping influence shoppers every time they make a purchase.  This was how MiUS Collection was born. From my blog posts, you will get the inside scoop… I call it “view from our buyer’s desk.”  I will feature interviews with our favorite designers and bloggers.  From me, you will also get consumer information and styling tips.

So this year, when the holidays roll around and you see email chains and face book posts telling you to “buy American” you will know where to head for fashionable women’s clothing and accessories!  It is my goal to make buying that “Made in the USA” product easy and fun…with a little sassy on the side!

What should you know about me? I am passionate about life, my family (pets included), love shopping and I’m obsessed with jewelry! I enjoy entertaining, cooking, eating and music .

Thank you for stopping by the MiUS blog…I hope to hear from you soon!

-millie

** for reading today’s post we have a special offer for YOU!  go to the MiUS collection website miuscollection.com and at checkout use code: makeavote! to recieve 15% off your purchase PLUS a free reUSAble  bag!  This offer is only good today.

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