New River Art & Fiber

New River Art & Fiber opens on 101 S Main Street, Feb. 2, 2020

Virginia Tech takes great pride in the school motto Ut Prosim, meaning “That I May Serve.” This phrase can be found just about anywhere, from the bottom of the Pylons to the ground outside of Dietrick Hall. But what aspects of Blacksburg serve our school community? A huge one that is constantly overlooked is the endless support from small local businesses and stores around town, businesses that need just as much support from our student body as they provide us.

Frequenting a place like Souvlaki as opposed to a chain restaurant like Mellow Mushroom will help our local businesses earn more revenue and allow them to succeed and maybe even expand. In addition, local stores like New River Art & Fiber and Blacksburg Books could use support from our students in growing their businesses. Another benefit to shopping locally is accessibility, as a multitude of local businesses in Blacksburg are located near campus. Many are within walking distance and are located on and around Main Street. However, that shouldn't stop you from supporting the smaller but just as special spots around the area. The easiest and most efficient place to do this is the Blacksburg Farmers Market, which is open Wednesdays and Saturdays, right off campus. Additionally, the market’s website provides an up-to-date log of information for attending the farmers market.

A great way to support our local businesses is to purchase their produce and products rather than shop at grocery stores. Blacksburg Farmers Market vendors offer a wide selection of fruits, vegetables, plants, baked goods and dairy products. For example, Sunrise Valley Farm sells their farm fresh eggs and homemade products, and promotes sustainable agriculture and raises endangered breeds. They feature ornaments made out of their sheep’s wool, as well as other wool creations. Sunrise Valley farm can provide goods to anyone looking for a special gift or decoration, in addition to those looking to support a local farm.

There are many local shops that would appreciate patron support, be they a local restaurant or a small boutique. There are numerous examples of these stores and boutiques just off campus, including Dashing Dog Studio, which is a gallery that specializes in handmade earthenware pottery. Visual art is a beautiful form of human expression and shouldn't be overlooked by the public. The owner of Dashing Dog Studio is featured at the Blacksburg Farmers Market every Saturday and Wednesday, where her pieces are on display. If you're looking for a gift or just to gain some inspiration for your own personal artistic pursuits, this is the place to look.

According to Michigan State University’s report titled “Why Buy Local?” about why shopping locally is important, they gave many examples to this effect.

“Locally sourced materials and products have many environmental benefits,” the report said. They produce less waste by eliminating unnecessary transportation and delivery, therefore reducing the amount of packaging being used.”

Shopping locally not only has positive effects by providing homegrown businesses with financial support, but it also has amazing environmental and health effects as well.

Don't be fooled, there are more places to visit beyond the farmers market. If you're looking for an interesting and new spot to try for a dinner night with friends, consider one of the places right near campus. A great example of this would be Souvlaki, which is located on College Avenue. Souvlaki features a wide selection of Greek subs and salads, as well as a bar and sitting area for dine-in guests.

Souvlaki is a favorite for Neera Naran, a freshman majoring in landscape architecture.

“My friends and I like to go to local restaurants like Souvlaki … I definitely recommend Souvlaki as it's one of my favorites,” Naran said.

Restaurants like Souvlaki are excellent examples of places that are accessible to anyone on campus, and deserve more attention and love from our campus.

Whatever you're looking for, there are plenty of places around Blacksburg that are sourced locally and cater to your needs. These smaller places deserve the support and recognition that the thousands of students here at Virginia Tech can provide. Whether your contribution be purchasing some flowers or a sweet treat at the farmers market or switching your shopping habits completely to locally sourced products, that contribution will be appreciated and be one more reason for these local sources to continue on and help our community. Ut Prosim means something here at Tech, and hopefully, it'll inspire this community to help out our local homegrown businesses.

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