Local Business

Benefits of Supporting Locally Owned Businesses

By: Corey Evans, Marketing Strategist

At Stingray Advisory Group, we are always looking to both work with and support fellow locally-owned businesses. Not only is it rewarding to connect with other community members, but it also helps a much bigger cause. Keeping money within the community allows for the community to grow and prosper and is one of the biggest benefits of shopping locally. This happens due to the multiplier effect.

The multiplier effect refers to the proportional amount of increase in final income that results from an injection of spending. Locally-owned businesses can recirculate a great percentage of revenue within the community as opposed to franchises/satellite companies. There are three elements that result in the multiplier effect.

Direct Impact

The direct impact is spending done by a business within the local economy which allows it to operate. This includes everything from maintaining inventory to paying employees. Simply put, local business success creates more jobs. If individuals can work closer to home, they can also save on travel expenses incurred from commuting. This can lower overall vehicle emissions, improving air quality within a community. When employees are taking their lunch breaks, having the opportunity to eat close to their place of employment helps local businesses. This also keeps money within the community allowing it to prosper.

Indirect Impact

The indirect impact is spending done by a business with other local businesses. Local business owners tend to band together and support the community by encouraging spending to stay within their establishments. Some businesses partner with other businesses offering discounts for spending within the community, deals, and even referrals. Not only does this keep the money within the community, but this allows businesses to build meaningful personal relationships with their customers. Customers feel better cared for when they’re able to go to one specialist that can immediately direct them to another specialist for a needed product/service. This mindset increases goodwill between business owners for an overall positive experience. The success of one locally-owned business could potentially mean success for other locally owned businesses.

Local business owners are more cognizant of how their decisions impact their neighborhood and its inhabitants. These owners become more involved in the community – joining membership organizations, sponsoring or hosting local events (charitable, tournaments, sporting events, etc.), and more. They may also get involved with local universities and small entrepreneurial centers, providing guidance and innovative expertise to the next generation of entrepreneurs.

Induced Impact

The induced impact is spending that happens as employees, business owners, and others spend their income in the local economy. This creates a sense of community identity. Cities become known for attractive elements that are unique to that city, like how Grand Rapids is known for our beer and furniture and has been aptly nicknamed “Beer City” and “Furniture City”. Vibrant small business communities create this identity and lead to local economic advantages. This identity brings in tourists from all over, further increasing revenue for local businesses. There is only one Las Vegas and one New York City for reasons like this.

Most consumers would rather go to specialists than generalists when purchasing goods and services. Locally owned businesses know the area/community and know what their customers want. Most local owners started their business to correct a problem they noticed would benefit consumers of that specific area.


Communities benefit greatly when consumers support and spend at local-owned businesses. We, at Stingray Advisory Group, are passionate about community involvement. We love visiting fellow Local First member coffee shops for meetings, utilizing members for our business needs, and collaborating with members to support our clients. If you haven’t taken the time to look at the Local First Member Directory lately, this would be a great time to revisit it. The next time you’re deciding where to stop for lunch, pick up a gift, or enlist help for your business, challenge yourself to support a fellow local business in the process!

We want to hear from you – let us know which local businesses you’re supporting!

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Stingray Advisory Group LLC is based in Grand Rapids, Michigan and is a proud member of Local First and the West Michigan Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. We help businesses grow. By creating customized solutions, we empower businesses and entrepreneurs with the tools to further their development. To learn more or schedule a consultation, visit email Follow us today on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for more helpful tips!

Local Business

Localize your Valentine’s Day!

Whether you're spending the day with someone special, having a night out with friends, or showing yourself some love, here are a few ways to show you LOVE local! 

Sweet Tooth

Looking to sweeten your Valentine's Day? Search Chocolate or Candy in the online directory and get a number of different options in Grand Rapids and on the Lakeshore.

Floral Arrangments

Flowers are always a nice gift when it's cold and wintery. Brighten up someone's day by searching Flowers or Greenhouse in the online directory.

Dinner Reservations

Restaurants make up the largest section of our Local First members. Search for dietary restrictions, type of cuisine, or zip code in the Restaurants, Food & Beverages category.


Ready to pop the question? Or maybe you're celebrating a milestone anniversary. Make sure to check out our list of Jewelers and get something shiny for your Valentine!

Artwork and Galleries

For the art lover you love! West Michigan has tons to choose from when it comes to art, galleries, and other ways to support local makers. Search Gallery to get ideas!

Last-Minute Gifts

Ok, so maybe you procrastinated and need something QUICK! Search Gift in the online directory and get tons of options! And remember, you can always narrow it down by zip code.

And, as always, make sure to thank these businesses for being Local First members and setting up shop in West Michigan. 

Eat Local

Taste the Local Difference in West Michigan

A Michigan Local Food Marketing Firm, Taste the Local Difference (TLD) recently expanded to West Michigan to continue its promotion of businesses that make up our local food system. Through partnerships with local businesses, we celebrate small farmers, as well as restaurants, retailers, event organizers and many others that make local sourcing a priority. Every bit of our work has one underlying mission – to get more local food sold. Our Grand Rapids-based Local Food Coordinator, Rebecca Henderson, is excited to connect with the swiftly growing local food movement in the West Michigan region. Check out these ways Taste the Local Difference can benefit your business!

Get in the Local Food Guide for Michigan!

Each year, TLD publishes a glossy, magazine-style Local Food Guide, a directory of local food businesses, seasonal recipes, and stories of local food champions. For the first time, our 2020 Local Food Guide will cover the entire state! With copies distributed statewide, this guide will highlight all of our hardworking partners and serve as a free resource for consumers searching for local food. Packed with seasonal recipes, maps, and more, these Guides are a useful resource all year long.

Craft a Personalized Partnership

Taste the Local Difference provides affordable marketing packages and a-la-carte services that can match any budget. In addition to being featured in our printed Local Food Guide and online directory, partners can opt for B2B Connections, Print and Digital Advertising, Social Media promotion and more!

Make New Connections

With a passionate team of local food lovers across the state, TLD is ever-evolving and forges connections between businesses and their consumers. By building brand awareness, partners experience increased revenue and find new market connections, statewide and regionally.

Partner with Taste the Local Difference to expand your network and sell more this year!

Rebecca Henderson is the West Michigan Local Food Coordinator for Taste the Local Difference. Contact Rebecca at to learn more about working together to grow your business this coming year. More information can be found at

Local Business

Now Is the Time: Reflect and Regroup with Purpose

With the holiday season behind us and the new year underway, this is a great time to take a moment and reflect on how 2019 ended. Don’t get too caught up on the past though — spring will be here before we know it! At Stingray Advisory Group, we work with clients to help them create actionable and attainable plans for moving forward and help them with implementation. One step in the process is to consider what you’ve done well and what you’d like to accomplish next. We thought this would be a perfect opportunity to highlight what two fellow Local First businesses have been focusing on and to share a little bit about what we’ve been up.

What accomplishment are you most proud of from 2019?

Tarra Davis, Co-Owner, Daddy Pete’s BBQ: Our personal goal for 2019 was to live more lean. That included our eating habits. We made a choice to reduce/eliminate meat from our diet. Behind the scenes, while we were serving delicious slow-smoked meats, we were preparing delicious plant-based meals for ourselves. The dishes were so good, we decided to take a chance and ask our customers if they would be interested in plant-based offerings. The response was overwhelming! Much to our surprise, there have been a lot of divided households that have been thrilled to be able to dine together — at a BBQ establishment — on meals that satisfy the soul for both meat-eaters and non-meat eaters alike. We are proud to be able to bring households back together around the dinner table, regardless of their meal plan preference. We’re also proud to play a part in showing people who have been curious about plant-based eating that there are many more options outside of just salad.

Duane Weed, Owner, Buy Local Michigan 365: At DW Video, it is an on-going goal to promote Michigan businesses through consistent content creation to promote local.  Today, people use the internet to shop and search for everything. With that said, we continue to focus on Michigan businesses with our Buy Local Michigan 365 site. This year we started up another site to focus on Michigan music. MI Basement Sessions takes a look at Michigan musicians, venues and businesses that help with the music scene. From the local club, recording studio to the singer-songwriters. It is all about supporting local.

Leandra Nisbet, Owner, Stingray Advisory Group: We are passionate about working one-on-one with other local businesses and one of our strategic goals for 2019 was to continue expanding our presence so that we could provide our assistance to more businesses throughout the state. I’m incredibly proud of what our team has accomplished in this regard. We were able to continue expanding our relationships — from on the lakeshore to into the U.P. It’s been amazing connecting with more people, getting hands-on with new businesses and business owners, and being able to have a real impact both on the organizations and within the communities.

Which Local First event was your favorite and why?

TD: We have thoroughly enjoyed numerous events held by Local First in the past. We love the opportunity to talk with existing fans and network with future potential clients at Fork Fest. We enjoy conversing with other small business owners and touring member businesses at Member Mixers. But most of all, because we are continuously trying to make our business better, we got immense value in discussing the book Small Giants with other business owners.

DW: There are many opportunities and unfortunately, I find myself not able to attend many due to outside obligations.  However, of the ones I have attended, I enjoyed the networking opportunity they provide.

LN: This year, my favorite Local First event was Fork Fest, both in Grand Rapids and on the lakeshore. It was my first time attending the Lakeshore Fork Fest, so it was great to meet new people and get to try food from local restaurants that were new to me. And I always love the Grand Rapids Fork Fest. This year it was yet again a wonderful kickoff to the fall. I enjoyed catching up with friends and sampling amazing food and drinks. We make it a family outing so that made it even better.

Name one goal you have for 2020.

TD: Our primary goal for 2020 is developing internal systems, processes, and a team that sets us up for long-term sustainability.

DW: Working with businesses on providing them consistent content creation for their business on a monthly basis. Today, business-people have enough to worry about with the day to day running of their business. My job will be to provide content for their web and social media sites, not to mention their Google My Business page as well. This is our main goal for 2020 — providing resources to businesses, organizations, nonprofits, and service agencies with custom-produced content.

LN: One of our goals for 2020 is to expand our team which will allow us to increase our capacity and ability to serve more clients.

How do you plan to leverage your Local First membership or member connections to help you achieve your goal?

TD: As part of our need to create a sustainable business, our plan is to take full advantage of all the training sessions Local First provides on ways to build and manage our business. We also hope to be able to participate in member mixers so that we can further build a network of relationships that allow us to share information with like-minded people and work together to provide services to each other so the money spent in the community stays in the local economy.

DW: I am working on an offer to provide Local First members an opportunity to have a Shop Small video produced and then distributed to maximize exposure.

LN: One way we plan to better utilize our Local First membership is by getting involved with the online member community. We love educating people and serving as a resource. I think we can get more out of our membership and create more value for our fellow members by getting involved in the Facebook group discussions, by letting people know what we’re doing or need, such as talent, and by sharing resources.

What stands out most for you from 2019 and how are you going to leverage your Local First membership this year?

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About Stingray Advisory Group LLC: Stingray Advisory Group LLC is based in Grand Rapids, Michigan. We help businesses grow. By creating customized solutions, we empower businesses and entrepreneurs with the tools to further their development. To learn more or schedule a consultation, visit Follow us today on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for more helpful tips!

Local Business

Engagement Supporter: Watermark Properties

Watermark Properties is a one-of-a-kind West Michigan company that consists of 7 golf courses, 2 golf simulator facilities, 3 private pools, 8 public RedWater Restaurant Group restaurants, and 8 banquet and event venues. If you are a golfer or foodie in Grand Rapids or the Lakeshore you have most likely golfed at a Watermark Properties course, dined at RedWater Restaurant Group restaurant, or attended an event at one of our beautiful venues.
nOur event venues continue to be some of the most popular spaces to host events in Grand Rapids. Because of increasing demand and our growing number of venues to offer, we are thrilled to present a streamlined approach for our guests in 2020 by combining the venues together as RedWater Events!

Among other changes, we are extremely excited to launch the RedWater Events website in early 2020. The site will help customers find information more easily, so they can browse all of our venues, check availability, view banquet menus, and get in touch with event managers — all in one place.
nRedWater Event venues are open to the public and provide a place to gather for any occasion, boasting a capacity of up to 450 guests. Our venues also showcase some of the best views in the area! Aesthetics aside, we’re proud to have an extremely talented culinary team that caters delicious food and bar options to ease the stress of your event planning. Our spaces also offer state of the art audio and visual equipment and have many other great benefits that will be showcased in a new way.

The RedWater passion for hospitality and appreciation for the community can be summed up by this quote from RedWater’s Director of Marketing, Leanne Stoll: “Our event venues provide a canvas for all types of milestone events. From weddings and baby showers to graduation and birthday parties, so many great memories happen at our venues. We have had the opportunity to form amazing relationships with our guests and are so honored to be a part of the communities where are venues are located. We look forward to continuing to grow and to work closely with more amazing West Michigan individuals.”

We hope that you will host your next event with us! Please call (616) 719-4945 or email for more information, or feel free to stop by one of our 8 RedWater Event locations to tour our unparalleled event venues in person:

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    Boatwerks near downtown Holland


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    Macatawa Golf Club in north Holland


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    Ravines Golf Club in Saugatuck


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    StoneWater Country Club in Caledonia


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    Sunnybrook Country Club in Grandville


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    Thornapple Pointe Golf Club in southeast Grand Rapids


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    Thousand Oaks Golf Club in north Grand Rapids


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    Watermark Country Club in Cascade


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Fork Fest – Holiday Edition!

What was your favorite dish at Fork Fest this year?? Did anyone else notice the (unintentional) deviled egg theme? And how about the artist's workshops and pop-up market? What a great event! Thanks to everyone who came and supported our local food system. Let's keep up the good work and support these folks over the holidays. Make to let them know you saw them at Fork Fest!

nBeacon Hill at Eastgate
nBrewery Vivant
nBridge Street Market
nCellar Door Preserves
nChapbook Cafe at Schuler Books
nDanzón Cubano
nDonkey – Taqueria
nEssence Restaurants (Bistro Bella Vita, Grove, The Green Well)
nGettin' Fresh
nGravity Taphouse Grille
nHancock Grand Rapids
nKoeze Cream Nut Natural Peanut Butter
nLinear Restaurant
nLouise Earl Butcher
nLove's Ice Cream
nMadcap Coffee
nMarcona on Lyon
nNew Holland Brewing The Knickerbocker
nReds at Thousand Oaks
nSlow Food USA
nSoldadera Coffee
nSonder Eatery
nThe Sovengard
nSupermercado Mexico
nTamales Mary
nTerra GR Restaurant
nThe Winchester
nZoko 822

nBrewery Vivant
nFarmhaus Cider Co.
nFenn Valley Vineyards and Wine Cellar
nLong Road Distillers
nSchaefer Cider Company


2019 Holiday Events

The holiday season has arrived! Here are just a few ways you can support our Local First members in the next few weeks.


Advent Wreath Class   
nNovember 26       
nHosted by Koetsier's Greenhouse. All materials provided to make your own advent or tabletop wreath with fresh greens for your holiday table.  We will also have our advent bowls for purchase at the class

Thanksgiving Day Morning!     
nNovember 28

Bowermans at Christmas at Countryside
nNovember 29        

Black Friday at Brewery Vivant
nNovember 29                         
nWe will be open on Black Friday from 11AM-12AM to serve great beer and food to all the holiday shoppers searching for the perfect gift.

Black Friday @ Madcap
nNovember 29
nFree shipping for online orders on Cyber Monday. Discounted merchandise online and in cafes throughout the holiday season, starting on Black Friday. A Limited Edition Tasting Series that will be available for preorder at the end of November and released in December. Pre-Order Pie available in the cafes – Pumpkin, Pecan, and Apple.

Black Friday @ Broad Leaf    
nNovember 29     
nWe will be featuring multiple collaboration beer releases along with one-day-only specials on retail merchandise!

“Woofmas Vacation” Holiday Kickoff Weekend
nNovember 30
nOur Small Business Saturday event is going to be a day of sales, promotions and lots of fun for owners and their pups! We host a weekend full of holiday fun and specials throughout the store and on purchases; including promotions on toys, food, CBD products, Dog Walking packages and more! It is happening all weekend, with the biggest sales happening on Small Business Saturday!

In The Black Pop Up Shop 2019
nNovember 30         
nPowered by Nourish Your Curls Boutique, Naturally ACT and Rock Candy Earrings & Things By Della Marie

The event features 6 Black-Owned Business:

  • Smiles By 'sign
  • We Are Lit
  • Nourish Your Curls Boutique
  • Wrapped by ACT
  • Rock Candy Earrings & Things By Della Marie
  • Barb’s Bangles
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Just In Time for Giving Gift Set Sale
nDecember 3           
nTake care of the people on your Holiday shopping list with an All-Natural gift from Momma's Home. Receive 25{6be771524f35e681d5eb1711abbe9ad08f29540a742404ae9fff00be7e8f65de} off and $5 flat rate shipping on all of our Gift Sets/Packages.

Santa Show LIVE          
nDecember 5           
nSanta is coming to Wealthy Theatre and GRTV on December 5th! Come down to the free show and ask questions of Santa on live TV from 5pm to 6pm. Photos with Santa will be available before the show. Doors open at 4pm!

Tinsel, Treats and Trolley             
nDecember 6       
nJoin us for this fun event in Ada Village! Our studio will be open late till 9pm with cookies and hot chocolate, watch our potter and painters at work, make an ornament keepsake of your child's hand and pick up personalized ornaments. 

Holiday Open House at Harbor Humane Society
nDecember 7       
nPhotos with Santa (bring your kids and of course pets!), Many local vendors, cocoa, pet “cookie” decorating and more!

The 12 Pubs Of Christmas Holland       
nDecember 7           
nThe Inaugural 12 Pubs of Christmas Bar Crawl is coming to Holland Michigan December 7th from 12-7pm. Grab your ugly sweater, onesie, Santa suit, or costume. 10{6be771524f35e681d5eb1711abbe9ad08f29540a742404ae9fff00be7e8f65de} of ticket sales and 50{6be771524f35e681d5eb1711abbe9ad08f29540a742404ae9fff00be7e8f65de} of charity tickets will go towards Harbor Humane Society

What you get:

  • Wristband for entry and food/drink specials
  • Drink specials at participating bars
  • No cover with your ticket purchase
  • Santa hat, while supplies last (online orders only)
  • Everyone dressed in outrageous costumes!
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Participating Locations

  • New Holland Brewing
  • Big Lake Brewing
  • The Curragh Irish Pub
  • Waverly Stone Gastropub
  • Big E's Sports Grill
  • Butch's Dry Dock
  • VFW Holland (open to wrist-banded participants) 
  • Hops at 84 East
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Santa in the Beer Garden!
nDecember 8         
nCome visit Brewer Santa in the beer garden from 2-5pm! Kids can tell Santa about their Christmas wishes while their parents enjoy a beer! Crafts provided for kids and limited special packages will be available for the whole family. 

Mosaic Trivet Class     
nDecember 11           
nJoin us and create a beautiful and functional mosaic trivet.  A great event to sign up as a group: book clubs, bible studies, coworkers and date night! All materials provided

Peat in the Creel Celtic Christmas Concert at Great Legs Winery Brewery Distillery           
nDecember 14

Ugly X-mas Sweater Industry Night
nDecember 18                             
nCome by in your ugliest x-mas sweater! For those of you in the service industry, enjoy $3 drafts and 20{6be771524f35e681d5eb1711abbe9ad08f29540a742404ae9fff00be7e8f65de}.

WYCE Bubble Bash     
nDecember 19
nThe Gilmore Collection is pleased to present the 20th annual WYCE Bubble Bash – a holiday celebration and benefit for community radio in West Michigan! Our friends at The Gilmore Collection host this great party as a fundraiser for WYCE every year. To celebrate the event's 20th anniversary, there will be TWO venues for your enjoyment:

  • HOME: A donation of $25 lets you sample 12 varieties of sparkling wines, plus a fabulous spread of food to accompany the bubbly. Raffle tickets are sold for door prizes, and awards given for best holiday attire!
  • B.O.B's Brewery: A donation of $25 lets you sample a number of beers, plus a fabulous spread of food to accompany the brews. Raffle tickets are sold for door prizes, and prizes awarded for our first annual Ugly Sweater Contest!
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Bring your friends, family or business clients out for some pre-Christmas cheer, while supporting community radio!

Bubble Bash – Thursday, December 19th from 5:30pm to 8:00pm inside HOME at The BOB and BOB's Brewery. No advance tickets are available, cash or check to WYCE is payable at the door.

Ages 21 and up welcome.

Drs of Jazzy ~ A Jazzy Christmas
nDecember 21       
nDoctors of Jazz perform a Jazzy Christmas Music Event to ring in the holidays. A free event.  Come ring in Christmas with us! Delicious Michigan Wines and Craft Beers. Cheese Boards available. Take out food is welcome here.               

Kid’s Winter Workshop 
nDecember 21
nBring your kiddos and enjoy a fun-filled holiday workshop in the beautiful CityVu Events space located inside CityFlatsHotel. The children will get to partake in a variety of different holiday crafts, photos, fun winter games (with prizes!), they will even be able to build their own snacks! The workshop is recommended for ages 3-10 years old, children must be accompanied by an adult (accompanying adults don't need tickets). Children under 3 years old are free.

Crummy Gift Exchange
nDecember 26
nWe all get these gifts, that we are not stoked on, it's fine. But we all know they are just gonna go into a corner of your room and never given a second thought. Well here is an opportunity to hand that burden off to someone else and maybe receive something that is not as bad! We will be hosting a White Elephant style gift exchange for all you maniacs. So come down, have a beer and let those crummy gifts pass on to someone else's shoulders. 


Ongoing Events & Promotions

Check out a few of our member's ongoing events and promotions during November and December!

Beechwood Grill

Local's Appreciation Month at Beechwood Grill   

We're celebrating YOU at Beechwood Grill in November! Stop in any time during the month for our special offers just for our loyal locals!


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    Grab-n-Go Hour!
    n 25{6be771524f35e681d5eb1711abbe9ad08f29540a742404ae9fff00be7e8f65de} OFF any takeout order from 11 am-Noon!


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     $2 Pints!
    n $2 pints of Short's Locals Light Draft all month long!


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    n 3-6 PM Monday – Saturday (usually from 3-5 pm)


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    $5 All American Burger!
    n Available 11am-3pm Monday – Saturday (dine-in only, no sides)


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    n $2 Mushroom appetizer! Monday – Thursday from 11am-10pm. (dine-in only)


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Far Far Away Travels       

Get $50 For Your Next Vacation When You Book With Us     
nEach time you book a trip* worth $1,000 or more with Far Far Away Travels we will send you a $50 gift card from your choice of Disney, Universal Studios, Princess Cruises, or Delta Vacations when you make the final payment.

*Trip means the cost of a hotel, cruise, all-inclusive resort, Disney, Universal Studios, guided vacation, or combination of these. The value of the trip does not include airfare. Mention the promotion Local First to qualify for the gift card.

Offer expires December 31, 2019

Fustini's of Holland          

Cooking Classes                          

Heather Lane Pottery     

Grand Rapids Ornament Promotion
n50{6be771524f35e681d5eb1711abbe9ad08f29540a742404ae9fff00be7e8f65de} off our Grand Rapids Ornaments for the season instore! Originally $20, ONLY $10 plus free personalizing!


Bonus Gift Cards
nFor every $30.00 gift card purchased you will receive a BONUS $5.00 gift card. Good thru New Years Eve

Lake Michigan Credit Union         

LMCU Santa Squad
nThe #LMCUSantaSquad is paying it forward! The LMCU Santa Squad provides holiday cheer, acts of kindness and goodwill, to the communities we serve. Each day in the month of December brings a new surprise and way to give back. Follow along on Facebook and Instagram by using the #LMCUSantaSquad to see all of the ways LMCU is giving back this holiday season. This is the sixth year of the campaign.

Martha's Vineyard           

Martha's Vineyard In-Store Tastings             
nFridays Noon to 8pm
nSaturdays 10am to 6pm
nEvery Friday and Saturday throughout the holiday season we will be having in house tastings. Sample wine, beer, specialty grocery, and cheeses to help you find the best products to enjoy with family and friends this holiday season!

Target Axe Throwing      

Axe Throwing for the Human Society                
nThroughout November, Target Axe is raising money for the Humane Society of West Michigan. December is dedicated to a local charity called Riding for Ryan, in honor of a young boy who passed this summer from being hit on his bike. These donations go towards giving out free bike flags for children. We also are setting up company holiday parties, as an affordable and fun, new outing! Gift certificates are available and a great gift for the holidays.

Local Business

Have your holiday gathering at John Ball Zoo

With the holidays quickly approaching, it's time to begin planning your holiday party. This year, why not try something unique and different than your typical venue?

The Bissell Tree House at John Ball Zoo is the premier venue for your holiday party!

This hidden gem provides guests with a spectacular view of downtown Grand Rapids. With its treehouse feel, floor-to-ceiling glass windows, and large covered veranda, the Bissell Tree House is the perfect venue for a truly unforgettable evening!

With a wide array of services to support your team, email or call now to find out how the event specialists at John Ball Zoo can make this year’s holiday party one to remember!

Contact or (616) 336-4314 today! Mention Holiday 2019 to find out how you can receive a 10{6be771524f35e681d5eb1711abbe9ad08f29540a742404ae9fff00be7e8f65de} discount on your rental fee. Additional details at

Eat Local

5 ways to enjoy fall in West Michigan

Fall is a beautiful season in West Michigan as the air becomes cooler and leaves on the trees transform from green to orange, red and yellow. With West Michigan being home to the Fruit Ridge – one of the best fruit-growing regions in the world – there is an abundance of orchards and farms to explore and plenty of apples and fresh cider to enjoy during the fall season.

We talked to Fruit Ridge Markets to find out where some of the best spots are in West Michigan for fun fall activities. From hayrides to U-Pick apples and pumpkin patches to donuts and cider, the following farms have you covered.   

Ed Dunneback & Girls Farm

Located just a few minutes north of downtown Grand Rapids, Ed Dunneback & Girls Farm offers a variety of fall activities for the entire family, including a corn maze, U-Pick apples, and pumpkin patch. If you’re craving something sweet, stop by the bakery to pick up fresh donuts and turnovers. Don’t forget some apples when you stop by – there’s a variety to choose from including honey crisp, gala, red delicious and many more. For hours and more information, visit

Schwallier’s Country Basket

Take a quick road trip over to the heart of Fruit Ridge in Sparta to visit Schwallier’s Country Basket. The farm features a market, complete with giant corn maze, petting farm, pumpkin patch, cow train, and wagon rides. Schwallier’s also grows over 15 varieties of apples and offers U-pick apples or you can grab some apples from the market. For more information, visit

Wells Orchards

If you’re looking to stock up on apples, make sure stop by Wells Orchards, located southwest of Grand Rapids between Grandville and Standale. You can also find pumpkins and varieties of squash. Satisfy your sweet tooth with homemade apple pies and apple dumplings. You can also pick up freshly squeezed cider, jams and butter, and fresh popcorn. Visit for more details and hours.

Robinette’s Apple Haus & Winery

Open all year round, Robinette’s Apple Haus & Winery is a special destination for apples, donuts, and activities for the entire family located just off of East Beltline. Growing over 35 varieties of apples, Robinette’s offers plenty of apples, apple cider, and more than 20 wines and hard ciders. You can U-pick apples or you can purchase apples from Robinette’s store and find a variety of sweets including donuts, pastries and more. If your family is feeling adventurous, check out the giant jumping pillow or explore the corn maze. For more information, visit

Fruit Ridge Hayrides  

Enjoy a variety of farm activities with family and friends at Fruit Ridge Hayrides located northern Kent County. Take in the fall colors on a horse-drawn wagon ride, explore the corn maze, visit the petting zoo, take a pony ride or pick out the perfect pumpkin for your jack-o-lantern. You can also U-Pick apples and enjoy fresh apple cider and homemade donuts. Fruit Ridge Hayrides also offers a variety of year-round activities like horse-drawn sleigh rides and cozy campfires during the winter months. Check out everything Fruit Ridge Hayrides has to offer at

It’s not too late to savor these last few weeks of fall before the snow flies. For a full list of 35 orchards and farms, visit to find a location near you.