Monday, December 6, 2010

Buying Into NoMi - One Month In

Post and photos by the Hawthorne Hawkman.  Editorial note:  the purchases in this post were made between 10/22/10 and 11/22/10.

I'd been meaning to give more frequent updates on my experiment of intentionally spending money within or related to north Minneapolis.  But some rather detailed posts, such as saving North High and the property tax lawsuit got on the front burner.  Plus, I've found it surprisingly difficult to write about two of the most personal ways that I relate to my community - financially and spiritually.  (Interestingly enough, the spiritual aspect seems harder to articulate and I'm not satisfied at all with that post.  I expect it to become easier as time goes on.)

So how am I doing in my quest to spend as much of my discretionary income as possible in NoMi?  Well, I broke down the first month's expenses and found that...

...almost 85% of that money stayed in, or connected to, NoMi.  My criteria for a NoMi connection has several possibilities:

  1. The business is located within the geographic boundaries of north Minneapolis neighborhoods.  Northeast and the North Loop don't count.  Buying something from a neighbor in NoMi counts, but not as a way to intentionally subvert the criteria.  (i.e. a garage sale is ok, but giving a friend money to buy books in St. Paul is not)
  2. The business I buy something from is owned or operated by a resident of NoMi.  One possible exception here is if there is a small business owned by someone outside of NoMi but largely staffed by NoMi residents.  Chain stores like Target or Best Buy don't count.
  3. The product or service I spent money on was used on behalf of NoMi.  Spending money to attend a housing conference, for instance, counts because that experience helps me better serve the community.
After the end of the first 30 days of this venture, I have to admit I was somewhat disappointed.  While I would really like to get that percentage up over 90%, I was still satisfied with the initial number.  No, what had me frustrated was that I really didn't feel like I had made any significant changes in my buying habits.  To my credit, some friends said this was probably because even before this undertaking I was already purposefully keeping my money within my community.  Even so, I'm sure there are plenty of great businesses that haven't seen a dime of my money (or others') simply because we don't know they exist right in our neighborhoods.  As this progresses, I expect to unearth many of these hidden gems.

So far, the biggest change in my behavior has been that I gas up at either Holiday or the Honeybee even if doing so will be more expensive than other spots.  I've also cut it pretty close at times, wondering if I'd have enough gas in the tank to get all the way back to NoMi or if I'd be walking, gas tank in hand.

The three main businesses that received the lion's share of my money last month were Cub Foods on Broadway, the Holiday gas station on Washington, and Good Sports Bar & Grill.

The most exciting NoMi purchase I made was $110 to NoMi artists Ken Farkash and Connie Beckers (aka the Goddess of Glass) for various tasks involving the framing of a painting I picked up in Tanzania.  Watch the Glassy Girl's Facebook page for special promotions.  I saved probably close to $150 or more on the framing when I took advantage of a deal offered there.

The big ticket item that wasn't purchased in NoMi but I have considered exempt is pictured above.  When Sprint announced their new 4G network, one of the things their phone could do was create a wireless hub.  I looked into that capability and the new data plan and saw that buying the new phone would result in $60 per month LOWER cell phone/internet bills than what I was previously paying.  Buying from Sprint allowed me to maximize those savings, whereas shopping around for a phone from one of the wireless spots in north Minneapolis would not have given me the same bang for the buck.  Since whatever I spent outside of the community will quickly be recouped by the monthly savings, I'm calling it a wash.

The purchase that I couldn't conceivably get elsewhere was from iTunes, when I bought Bob Dylan's anthology of pain, "Blood on the Tracks."  This whole album is written from the perspective of someone who just offered his heart to the woman he loved, only to have it mercilessly stomped on.  "Situations have ended sad/relationships have all been bad/Mine've been like Verlaine's and Rimbaud/But there's no way I can compare/All those scenes to this affair/You're gonna make me lonesome when you go."  Oddly enough, although this record is essential for Dylan fans recovering from a traumatic breakup, I was in no such frame of mind.  I couldn't say what prompted me to pick up this album.

But there's really no way I can buy a Dylan recording in NoMi, as far as I can tell.  I can't just waltz into Digital City on Broadway, or one of the other numerous shops selling long white tees and racks of rap music and ask them to special order the Bob Dylan Bootleg Series #9, now can I?  Now that I write that line, I realize I absolutely MUST do that very thing.  That's exactly what this adventure is all about.

Finally, the most shameless non-NoMi purchases took place in SoMi.  I happen to root for the Chicago Bears, and I am also in possession of what in my objective opinion is the single most glorious jacket of all time.

Gaze upon this and weep, all ye who despair in the pity of those purple pants.
Well, a fellow NoMi homie who knows a good football team when he sees one introduced me to Chris and Rob's, a hole in the wall place that is dedicated to Chicago sports.  I've since gone there to watch the 9-3 Chicago Bears cement their lead over the locals.  This is the first place in the Twin Cities where my jacket is truly appreciated - to the point where it got me free beer.  I've worn this jacket in bars where Vikings fans have generously offered to pour beer ON me for free, but the proprietors at Chris and Robs took one look at the amazing technicolor coat and put a cold one in my hand.  Classy.

With Christmas coming up, I'm hoping to get presents for my family from shops in NoMi.  Suggestions, anyone?


  1. I hate to break it to you, but I'm fairly sure it was more the presence of the owner and the Bears touchdown that got you a free beer, not the jacket. :)

  2. Yeah, Michael, you're probably right. But still, can't I revel in my favorite jacket and a successful Bears' season a bit?


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