By Frank May

In a day where we can get whatever we want with a quick shout to “Alexa,” is there even a need to have a brick and mortar store in your neighborhood? You bet there is!

Don’t get me wrong, Alexa can tell a great joke, and Siri can get you all the information you need, but what they can’t give you is a face-to-face response. I have taken advantage of the technology-driven era we live in and love the strides we have made in the past decade or two, but I still love to walk into my bank to deposit a check or make my way down the aisles of the grocery store and sit down at a restaurant.

It brings me to my point of why brick and mortar stores are always going to be essential to us. When I shop, I want to touch a product and see it in a visual surrounding that I will never get online. The most critical piece of the shopping experience is the ability to talk to a salesperson or shop owners about their knowledge of a product and whether it is a good purchase for you. A small business owner or salesperson wants you to be happy with your purchase and give you a reason for coming back.
You might be asking, “How does this have anything to do with real estate?” The answer is simple. When the businesses around you are thriving, it makes for an area where people want to live, and that helps home values. The more connected the community, the more likely local businesses will succeed because you want to support your local area. Not only are these businesses helping the community, often, they are also your neighbors who have leveraged everything to make their dream a success.

The Upper Westside is becoming more established, with some neighborhoods starting to mature while others are just beginning. The local businesses mirror the continued growth in the community. For example, after being open for a little over a year, Amazing Lash Studio just won Top Performing Studio in the COUNTRY! They won because of the support of the community, their excellent customer service, and finding that ideal location in 85383.

One of the other benefits to brick and mortar shops is the social factor. If we sit on our computer all day working/shopping and not talking to anyone day after day, we lose the connection we as humans crave. Within a short distance, I can drop off my bike to Road Runner Bike Center, pick up a beautiful house-warming gift at Robyn’s Nest, and fill my stomach at Lakeside Bar & Grill, just to name a few!

The temperatures are dropping, making it an incredible time of the year in Peoria. Now is the perfect time to get outside in your community and explore the events that are happening all around you. November 30 is Shop Small Saturday, which was established ten years ago by American Express for the sole purpose of supporting your local businesses. These mom and pop shops cannot compete with the enormous Mega-Low-Marts on Black Friday. Why not show your support on Shop Small Saturday and see what your local businesses have to offer you? I bet there is a great deal waiting for you and a possible connection with a shop owner/neighbor who will appreciate your support. Who knows, you might become a local business owner yourself valuing the help of your community next year.

Frank May grew up in the valley, graduating from Northwest Christian School and NAU. He is a real estate agent with Keller Williams Realty and has been helping both buyers and sellers for 18 years.