It’s a tradition that started in 2009. While we encourage local spending all year long, for one special week each year (July 27-Aug 2, 2020), we ask people to make a more concerted effort to buy and try Michigan-made products; explore independent eateries and boutiques; learn more about local companies; and to share their long-time favorites and new discoveries with others to stimulate a strong local economy. Join us on social media this week with #buyMIweek. That said, these ten suggestions will bring you joy any time of year.

Go on a Shopping Spree
Create a budget, then dole out the cash and send your family members off to use their allotted funds only on Michigan-made items bought from independent stores. You could also purchase gift cards from several local businesses and give them away. Visit a grocery store and buy only local products to make your meals for a day, weekend, or week.

Create a Cooking Competition
Whether your competitors are all in the same house, or virtual, this is a really fun activity for all you foodies out there. Choose a unique single ingredient like Scotty O’ Hotty Beer Bacon Chipotle hot sauce or bleaf Saffron Pear Chutney and see who comes up with the tastiest and most creative recipe. Alternatively, assign a meal to each person that must be made entirely with Michigan-made or -grown ingredients. You could also send or unveil a mystery product that the chef must then incorporate into a delicious dish using other ingredients already in the house.

Throw a Winetasting
Purchase several bottles of scrumptious Michigan wines. Create tasting stations that are socially-distanced with one type of wine at each, along with a bucket to pour out unwanted sips. Include hand sanitizer along the way. Give each guest their own glass along with tasting sheets and a pen so that your guests can identify which items they loved and want to buy again. Include a local store where the wine may be purchased and/or the winery’s website alongside each entry on the tasting sheet to encourage post-event sales. For extra flair, include Sanders line of wine pairing chocolates.

Remove and Replace
Have each person in the family identify articles of clothing worthy of donating to a local nonprofit. In exchange for making a donation to support others, treat each of your family members to the new hat, tee, or hoodie of their choice from brands like Ann Arbor T-shirt Company, CSG Tees, Detroit Shirt Company, Livnfresh, or Tee See Tee, just to name a few.

Create Your Own Cocktail Menu
Craft cocktails are all the rage, but if you aren’t comfortable heading out to a pub these days, then maybe it’s time to learn the craft of cocktails yourself. First up, stock your bar with Michigan spirits like Valentine’s Liberator Gin, Coppercraft’s Straight Bourbon, Grand Traverse Distillery’s True North Vodka, or any of the many other libations available across the state. Then add complementing liquids like Vivio’s Bloody Mary mix, McClary Bros. Drinking Vinegars, and Faygo mixers. Hit your garden or a local farmers market for herbs, and let the fun begin. Experiment with flavors and concoctions until you come up with 5 or 6 you love. Create your own menu to print or write on a chalkboard to offer up to guests the rest of the year.

Road Trip to an Undiscovered Town
Get out an old Michigan map, drop a pen and head to wherever it lands to uncover an adventure. If that’s too spontaneous for you, or the only maps you know are on the internet not in a glove box, then think of a town you’ve heard about, but never been to and pay them a visit. Be sure to mask up and social distance when you check out the nearby shops and eateries. Ask a few locals what they recommend seeing or doing while in town. Be sure to leave a little green behind in each community.

Celebrate Christmas in July
What was once just a line from a French opera popular in the 1890s, spawned a film in 1940, and has since often come to mean some type of retail sale here in America. Christmas in July may seem ridiculous, but this is a year we could use a little more ridiculous, at least of the sublime sort. Draw names and challenge your loved ones to each buy a Michigan-made gift. Deck the halls, or perhaps the yard, with a little Christmas magic and have some off-season fun. If you’re not ready to go down that path yet, then make a list of Michigan-made gift ideas for each of your loved ones so you can keep an eye out throughout the year. The key to shopping locally for the holidays is a little bit of preparation.

However you spend the week, be sure to take some pictures and share your discoveries and favorites on social media with all of us. Use #buyMIweek and visit our Facebook page to take part in daily discussions about products and tips for keeping your money local. This year, it’s more important than ever that we work together to revitalize our economy.

Author: Lisa Diggs

Lisa Diggs is a writer, speaker, entrepreneur, business consultant, avid traveler, and founder of The Catalyst Company, LLC, Michigan Positivity Project, and Buy Michigan Now.