By Laura Carrithers, Director of Programs

A surprising aspect of sheltering-in-place is how much closer I feel to my neighbors and community. As my circle tightens to home and walks around the block, the faces I do see bring me joy. My neighborhood is what is left of my contact with humanity these days.  Much of how I feel right now, relates back to these small interactions and the kindness and gratitude we show. I can feel our interdependence as a community as we comply with social distancing to keep each other safe. 

These are historic times. The global population is doing life not-as-usual. Our daily lives have been upended. Old habits have had to be remade. We are all having moments to think about how we can do things better going forward. And that makes me think about how I can best support my community during the shutdowns.

As consumers we are faced with decisions about purchasing goods and services every day, even now. Cost, convenience, and variety often inform us in these decisions. And our digital world has made it so easy to shop nationally and globally.  But here’s what I have learned, when we buy local, our money stays local, and it strengthens our local economy. 

At West Center, we know that spending locally directly contributes to a healthy business environment, which is one of the key ingredients of a community’s economic success.  And a successful economy greatly influences a town’s quality of life. This is why we launched Mendocino Marketplace, because finding and buying from your local store today might be the only way to ensure they will be open tomorrow. demonstrates that diverse small businesses in our county are still here and selling their products and services. 

When local businesses prosper, owners stay in the community and become more invested in its future. The money that you give to one small local business eventually ends up in the hands of other local businesses, creating a positive spending loop, supporting the local economy to thrive. This portal makes it easy for you to access the businesses that are open, and encourages the businesses to submit information to us on their current delivery procedures as well as on their products and services and hours of operation. The content grows as more businesses add to the site. 

Help us create an environment that provides economic advantages for all our small businesses including restaurants, local artisans, professional services, and retail.  Seeing the response to the Mendocino Marketplace reminds me of what makes living in Mendocino County so special. Even though my world these days may be confined to just a few blocks, I know when I buy local I create a more intimate relationship with the people who make or grow these products because we are all neighbors here! 

West Center believes in the power of supporting one another on a local level, which is why we constantly strive to purchase locally sourced products, partner with local vendors, and invest our funding directly into the county and our community.

Visit Open for Business here.

We created Open for Business as a portal for Mendocino County businesses and residents to help you find your way back to each other amidst COVID-19. 

The page shows you who is still open and in what capacity: new hours, new products, and delivery.

Shelter-in-place and social distancing have been hard on all residents and businesses around the world that rely on live, in-person traffic. While we and our beloved local businesses pivot to comply with COVID-19 mandates to keep us all safe, we want to support local businesses so they can survive and thrive. 

We encourage all businesses you know who are operational to submit their information to the site so that we can continue to buy local, #buymendo!