It’s easy to walk into a comfortable, familiar environment.
When the same fashion mogul is five minutes from your house no matter what city you live in, it’s easy to shop there. You know what looks and prices to expect, how the store is laid out, and there aren’t any surprises.
When your favorite, well-known band travels around and stops in the same venue often, it’s easy to grab some friends and head toward their comforting songs. You know at least a few songs on the set list and the general atmosphere to expect.
When your favorite restaurant is a chain that offers a fairly decent meal, it’s easy to order the same entree and know you’ll enjoy it. You probably even know what the plates look like.
But sometimes the best things in life are the things unfamiliar to us and take a little bit more thought. Sometimes, the best things in life are the local things: those special treasures you can’t find across the country that thrive only in our little slice of Columbus.
The best part of buying local is directly supporting someone in town who took a leap of faith and started a business. The second best part is knowing that whatever you bought, listened to, or ate, is special.
Check out my favorite places to support local joints of all types.
This is probably the hardest one for me to remember, but there are some amazing clothing stores in Columbus beyond the malls. Local fashion is sometimes more expensive but almost always more distinct than larger fashion chains and worth the time.
I tend to prefer vintage stores in Columbus when I’m looking for something special. Luckily, many throwback stores, like Flower Child at 989 N High St., or Clothing Underground at 1898 N. High St., aren’t very far from campus.
Flower Child is a traditional vintage store and often gives the original year of an item while Clothing Underground takes an upcycling approach and reworks old pieces to make them more modern. Either way, the pieces tell a story and are sure to be original.
For a more modern approach to local fashion, Substance, 783 N High St., and Milk Bar Boutique, 765 N High St., are so close it’s nearly impossible not to enter both. Each has its own take on fashion and rolls out new clothing so, like a major fashion destination, it’s worthwhile to go back if you don’t find something you love immediately.
Columbus is great for live music, and not just because there are a few large concert venues. There are local bands hidden in just about every dark bar, and most of them are worth a listen.
Dick’s Den, at 2417 N High St., has bluegrass and jazz in an intimate environment. This bar brings in local acts, like the Dan White Sextet, that are sure to bring the house down. Just make sure you go early if you’re excited about the act to get a good spot, whether it’s standing or at a table.
Another spot close to campus is Woodlands Tavern at 1200 W. Third Ave. This joint advertises itself as a live music bar and has small acts almost every day, so it requires no planning ahead if you want a surprise.
Beyond checking out local music spots, some lesser-known bands hail from Columbus and play around the city often, so be sure to check out festivals for a variety of local talent. If a band strikes your fancy, you’ll be able to hear them often and usually for less money than a group that frequents the radio.
Eating at local restaurants is probably the easiest way to support local businesses, and it’s borderline appalling to me that more students don’t take advantage of the restaurants around Columbus. There are so many amazing places that offer unforgettable grub, it’s hard for me to only pick a few.
For something cheap that pleases everyone in your party, head to North Market at 59 Spruce St. It’s easy to find a meal for less than $10, and there’s enough variety from Korean to Italian that even the picky eater will be happy.
If you’re looking for a nicer meal, try any one of the Cameron Mitchell restaurants. I love The Pearl, 641 N High St. The meals aren’t too pricey, as most plates are around $20, but each dish is enough to make me drool before it plops down in front of me.
No matter if you’re eating, shopping or looking for a night with some great music, think local next time. Columbus has a lot of great things to offer, and you never know what you’ll find.