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The How, Why, and Where of Shopping Small and Eating Local


Living in Riverside County means variety in food, climate, and culture. One of the driving forces behind our variety is the abundance of local businesses, big and small. Whether your thing is fancy soaps and scents or experimental fusion dishes, you will surely find something you like. On top of that, you can feel good knowing you’re supporting the local economy and giving that money right back into your community: your friends, family, and neighbors. Plus, locally-produced goods tend to be easier on the wallet. Your checking account will thank you.

The biggest challenge to shopping small and eating local is actually finding those small businesses. If driving the I-215 until you find something that catches your eye isn’t your cup of tea, be sure to read on for tips, tricks, and local events that will make your journey easier.

#1 — Scour Social Media Communities

This one may be obvious, but for those who haven’t tried it, check out social media sites and search for accounts, groups, and communities that specifically highlight local businesses. Several hyper-local resources exist, focusing on the businesses making up your city. Check Facebook, Instagram, and Nextdoor, a hyperlocal social media platform; multiple groups and accounts are specifically dedicated to businesses in the southern Inland Empire.

#2 — Don’t be Afraid to Ask for Recommendations

Again, this is one of the more obvious ones, but asking around is less intimidating than it seems. Don’t be intimidated by the idea of striking up a conversation with someone you don’t know well—sometimes, the best spots are hidden in the most unfamiliar places. Cover extra ground with someone who may be more familiar than you.

#3 — Check Out Local Events

Many events in the area are dedicated to local businesses, but even with the best attempts at marketing, sometimes it can be difficult to hear about them. For a non-exhaustive starter list…

  •  Foodie Fridays at MSJC’s Menifee Valley Campus. On the first Friday of every month from March through October, you’ll find that MSJC’s parking lot is transformed into a bustling market featuring dozens of hot meals, baked goods, and locally handcrafted goodies for sale. The event has no entry fee and offers free parking, student or not.
  •  Trading Post Night Market at 30141 Antelope Rd, Menifee. On the third Friday of every month, you’ll find an event featuring food, entertainment, and music. That’s the Trading Post Night Market, presented by the Southern California-based organization Made Local. The event is family—and pet-friendly and runs from 5 to 9 p.m.
  •  Vail Headquarters’ Moonlight Market. On the last Friday of every month, Vail Headquarters in Temecula is filled to the brim with local singers, musicians, artisans, and creators. The event is family-friendly and open to all ages.
  •  Vail Headquarters’ Farmers Market. Aside from the Moonlight Market, Vail Headquarters also holds a weekly Farmers Market. Make a Tuesday morning trip and get fresh, locally-grown produce (which usually ends up being cheaper than what you’ll find at your local grocery store!) or some one-of-a-kind gifts from a local crafter.
  • Winchester Swap Meet. If you’re looking for new or used goods, check out the Winchester Swap Meet on Newport Rd. The swap meet is sure to have plants, clothes, crafts, you name it. Parking can be a challenge, so be sure to get there early. It opens at 7 a.m. and runs until 3 p.m.

Sometimes finding the goods you want can be slow-going at first, especially when some businesses have very little presence online. However, once you find the perfect match, the payoff is absolutely worth every minute you spend searching. What are you waiting for? Get out there and explore!

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About the Contributor
Avery Saucier
Avery Saucier, Writer
Hi there! My name is Avery. I'm a journalism major originally from Kingston, Massachusetts. Much of my writing, both formal and informal, focuses on the cultural and sociopolitical changes taking place in the 21st century, especially in today's America. I have some experience writing for a nonprofit organization, and I look forward to continue developing my skills here at the Talon!
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