Earlier this week, I got a little stir crazy. So I decided a change of venue was in order: I packed up everything I needed, hopped into the car, and drove 35 miles down the road to Montpelier, Vermont to work remotely. (I chose Montpelier because my husband works there and this way we could spend our lunch break together.)
As I drove around the small city looking for a place to spend the morning, I saw a rainbow flag hanging in the window of a local coffee shop, so I decided to patronize that establishment. After all, Michael and I feel very strongly about spending our money at LGBT-owned and -allied businesses whenever possible.
So I went in, sat down, ordered a coffee and a bite to eat, and got to work. The morning hours flew by, and before long it was time to meet my husband for lunch. When I finally raised my eyes from my computer screen, I noticed several more rainbow items interspersed among the decorations on the walls of the restaurant, several of them containing messages supporting marriage equality. A man who appeared to work at the restaurant was walking by at that moment, and I decided to say something to him about it.
I flagged him down, thanked him for being so outspoken in his support of LGBT equality, and told him that the rainbow flag in the front window is what brought me into the restaurant that morning. It turns out that the man I was speaking with was the restaurant’s co-owner, along with his partner of 17 years. He said that when they bought the restaurant a little over a year ago, they took a big risk when they decided to display the rainbow flag: “No one else in town had the flag displayed. We weren’t sure what kind of flak we were going to get from people.”
Thankfully, it had the opposite effect: the prominently-displayed flag has brought lots of business from LGBT and equality-minded locals and travelers, and other businesses in the city began to display the rainbow flag as well.
I’m sharing this story with all of you because in this day and age, we don’t always appreciate the fact that public expressions of support for and solidarity with the LGBT community still carry a fair amount of risk for small businesspeople, especially in more rural areas. Remember to support these LGBT-owned and -allied businesses. But don’t just purchase from them — when you’re in the door, let them know that you’ve chosen to patronize their business because of their support for LGBT equality. You’ll be showing them that supporting our community is a good business decision, and you may just end up making someone’s day.
And by the way, if you’re ever in Montpelier, check out the Coffee Corner at the intersection of State and Main Streets.