Local Sourcing and Your Small Business

Typically, local sourcing is defined as procuring consumable goods within a short radius of where they will be used. For example, Torti Taco, in Battle Creek, Michigan, uses local growers to supply fresh ingredients daily for their award-winning salsas. Owner Javier Fortoso knows that by adding 3-4 local suppliers to his business model, he provides stability for other small businesses and helps strengthen the local economy.


Why Is Local Sourcing Good for Your Small Business?


Sometimes sourcing from other local businesses takes extra work, but there are benefits to making the change:

  • Response Time. Local sources will be able to respond to your changing needs more rapidly.
  • Face-To-Face. While we live and work in a global society, it is tough to replace a personal connection.
  • Reduced Transportation Costs. Your business’ bottom line will benefit from the reduced time and cost of transportation of goods.
  • Lower Environmental Impact. Since the time of transport is less, gas use and other harmful environmental impacts will be lowered.
  • Community Benefit. When you are working with a local source, their business thrives, too, making it a win/win for your entire community.
  • Bottom Line. Customers feel good about supporting businesses that use local sources and that can impact your bottom line in a positive way.

Some of Northern Initiatives’ business partners are taking local sourcing, especially in the area of food, to heart, and are seeing great results. Below we highlight three additional small businesses, Zilke Farm Kitchen, Blackrocks Brewery, and Crow’s Nest Restaurant and Catering, that use local product sources to help create success. 


Zilke Farm Kitchen


Growing is what Tom and Vicki Zilke do best. The pair started their farm, Zilke Vegetable Farm, in Milan, Michigan in 2009, with a passion for offering real food in their community. They opened a farm stand on Carpenter Road in 2011, bringing fresh fruits and vegetables to the community.


The idea of opening a second location in town with a commercial kitchen bore a new business –  Zilke Farm Kitchen.  Vicki says, “We really just want to have satisfying and delicious dishes that are simple to create, prepared with love, and on the table in 30 minutes.” 


Zilke Farm Kitchen is stocked with a large selection of healthy, local ingredients, prepared in a licensed commercial kitchen, and ready to assemble into a quick and delicious meal. The new business makes it easy for customers to bring real food into their homes, giving them a head-start on meal preparation.


The Zilkes are able to adjust their offerings from the Farm Kitchen to what’s growing in their Vegetable Farm. Part of how they know what they are doing is working is that their payroll is growing, and that’s good for their community.


Blackrocks Brewery


While the craft beer industry already carries a local vibe with it, much of the grains, hops, and yeast ingredients that go into beer are dominated by much larger companies, usually outside of the crafters “local” area. But, thanks to Craft Cultures, brewers in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, including Blackrocks Brewery in Marquette, have a local option for yeast. Blackrocks also sources Michigan honey from Beulah based Sleeping Bear Farms for seasonal favorite – Honey Lav.


Blackrocks owners, Dave Manson and Andy Langlois, are able to obtain the terroir from the Lake Superior region and also take advantage of seasonal products by sourcing their yeast locally.


The Crow’s Nest Restaurant and Catering


Located in Harbor Springs, The Crow’s Nest has been serving visitors to northern Michigan for over 50 years. Chef and owner Bob Vala received his culinary degree from the Culinary Institute of America and says farm-to-table dishes are what The Crow’s Nest does best. Customers enjoy an ever-changing menu that includes local fresh lake perch, salmon, and morels.


Finding local sources for your business needs may take extra effort, but your customers and your bottom line will thank you!


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