Bret Wingert, owner of Souvia Tea in Phoenix, is a charter member of Local First Arizona. He said the ubiquitous chain Starbucks blocked his early attempts to open a store.
“Anybody who has started up their own business knows that it’s not easy,” he said. “Starbucks takes over a lot of the retail space and then excludes anyone else who might be in a remotely related business.”
Wingert eventually found a shopping center in North Phoenix and has operated there since 2006.
Winger said Local First Arizona provides great technical and business-oriented information, as well as networking opportunities.
“Also, it’s kind of a support group,” he said. “You could commiserate with people about the problems that small business people encounter.”
As for hard economic times, Winger said he’s “not participating in the downturn.”
“I’m not getting sucked into the negative energy and we’re continuing to do business as we have,” he said. “We all know those unique local places that we love, that we like to go back to, and that’s what Local First Arizona is all about.”
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Local First www.localfirstaz.com