30 Days of Local Praise

My resolution this year isn’t to abstain from anything — it’s to create positive change through praising local businesses.


I’m calling my resolution 30 Days of Local Praise, and the idea is to give one positive online review about a local business every day for a month. I’m going to try to do a Yelp review (or a Google review, etc.) each day for 30 days, but some days I might sub in a social media shout out — just a picture of what I’m eating or drinking or buying from a locally owned place with the hashtag #localpraise.


What’s the point of this? On a personal level, I think it’ll be good to concentrate on finding something nice to say for thirty days in a row (I’m not going to praise local businesses that I don’t think are doing a good job; I’ll just skip them and choose businesses I think deserve good reviews).


But I also want to put a little local positivity out there because I know negative online reviews hurt small businesses more than they hurt big box stores. After all, we’re probably not going to avoid the neighborhood Target because they got a bad review — but we might decide not to try a new restaurant or locally owned shop if we Google them and see that a couple of people slammed them on Yelp.


If we have a good experience at a shop or restaurant, we usually don’t think about leaving a review or posting about it on social media. We came, we saw, we bought (or ate, or drank, or whatever). What more is there to say? But when we have a bad time — when we feel ignored or our food is cold or a bartender is rude — we need to let off steam, and that’s when we’re a lot more likely to get online and leave a review.


There’s nothing wrong with that, of course. My Twitter is a pretty decent record of public mini-rants against companies I have problems with, so I’d be a liar if I said I’d never left a bad review online. But sometimes one bad experience is just a blip; it’s not always representative of overall service. As the owner of a local shop, it means the world to me when a happy customer takes the time to cheer me on — it makes me feel good, and it helps new customers who choose to Google my shop feel comfortable giving it a chance.


I want to give that gift to the shops and restaurants that I believe in and love to visit. I want to do a my part to silence the haters and cast my vote for the great bartenders and servers and baristas and shop owners that I know. I want to practice leaving good reviews so that I know how to do it, and so it’s easy for me to make a habit of leaving positive reviews when I have good experiences at locally owned shops.


I’d love it if you’d join me in this resolution. You can leave a Yelp or Google or other online review, or blog about a local company, or even just post an Instagram or tweet once a day praising a local business and hashtagging it #localpraise. (If you want to let me know about it more directly, I’m @crollwagen on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.) They say, “If you can’t think of anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all” — but if you can think of something nice to say, why not shout it from the rooftops? Or, you know, post it on the Internet, which is basically the same thing.


Carrie Rollwagen is the author of The Localist: Think Independent, Buy Local and Take Back the American Dream. It’s available as an ebook and in paperback for order wherever books are sold.

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