Intentionalist: Vote With Your Wallet

by Laura Clise

Intentionalist is built on one simple idea: where we spend our money matters. We make it easy to find, learn about, and support small businesses and the diverse people behind them through everyday decisions about where we eat, drink, and shop. #SpendLikeItMatters

When it comes to the money we spend, we live in a time when we can swipe and click our way to immediate gratification, oftentimes unknowingly to the detriment of the social, economic, and cultural fabric of our communities. Consider, for instance, “free” delivery. The fees charged by venture-backed technology platforms actually cut into or overwhelm small businesses’ already slim margins. In their effort to maximize ordering efficiency, these digital platforms make it easy for us to forget that the livelihoods of business owners and their families depend on each order.

Intentionalist is a Seattle-based social enterprise and online resource that invites all of us to be more intentional about supporting small businesses owned by women, People of Color, veterans, members of the LGBTQ community, and people with disabilities. 

For so many of us, 2020 has been a reminder of what really matters — from the local businesses we’ve perhaps taken for granted, to the need to do so much more when it comes to racial, environmental, and economic justice.  

The everyday decisions we make about where we eat, drink, and shop actually shape the community and world around us. Yes, we vote with our ballots. We also vote with our dollars — in support of people and businesses that matter, because small business owners are a part of our communities.  

As communities throughout Seattle have been reeling from the impacts of the pandemic, small business owners have continually stepped forward to lead and care for people in need. From community kitchens, to meals for frontline workers, to the sharing of retail space for food pantries, to support for family flower farms and other local businesses, throughout this year of unprecedented challenge and uncertainty, small business owners have continued to care for all of us.

At the Intentionalist we believe the economy of the future must be relational — not just transactional — because the world we want is one where small businesses thrive, neighbors know and support each other, and people feel a sense of belonging. 

Arthur Ashe said, “Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.” 

We each need to do our part to support diverse local businesses we love, in recognition of the many ways they contribute so much more than the products and services they sell.

Local businesses provide safe space for us to gather and connect with each other, they sponsor youth sports teams, support school fundraisers, provide jobs opportunities, and take the time to relate to us not only as customers but as neighbors and even as friends. 

This new bi-weekly column, an exciting partnership between Intentionalist and the South Seattle Emerald, is both an invitation and a call to action. Get to know the small businesses in South Seattle and South King County along with the diverse people and stories behind them. Show up to support the heart of our communities. And keep showing up.

Here are a few suggestions:

Umami Kushi

Umami Kushi Owner Harold Fields standing in front of his storefront. (Photo: Intentionalist)

Harold Fields is putting his spin on Japanese street food at Umami Kushi in Rainier Beach. Umami Kushi is known for their okazu pan — a fried bread stuffed with a savory filling — but Harold also serves other classic Japanese foods like yakitori. In 2009, Harold brought his love of Japanese street food to Seattle after being introduced to the wonders of Japanese street food in Tokyo. Odds are, you’ve probably seen his okazu pans all over the city and beyond at places like The Station, Cortona Cafe, and Métier Brewing.

“I think there’s a certain realness to Rainier Beach. When I moved in and I had worked here for a year by myself, I was so proud that I had my own business, that I was in the community, and I would see other African Americans. You can sit here, and you’re in the heart of the neighborhood.” —Harold Fields

Golden Wheat Bakery

Angel Rocha, owner of Golden Wheat Bakery, standing in front of one of his pastry cases. (Photo: Intentionalist)

Here’s what you can expect when you come to Golden Wheat Bakery: fresh bread, buttery pastries, and exceedingly friendly service. Golden Wheat Bakery owner, Angel Rocha, has been keeping Seattle full of breads, danishes, tamales, empanadas, and more sweet and savory treats since 2013. His love of baking started when he was 8 years old in Jalisco, Mexico, where he grew up.

“I really love baking. I can bake the whole day, and I’m very happy. That’s the nice thing about passion — baking is more than just baking.” —Angel Rocha

Seattle Fish Guys

Seattle Fish Guys co-owner Desiree Chinn standing inside her business. (Photo: Intentionalist)

When husband and wife duo Sal Panelo and Desiree Chinn opened Seattle Fish Guys in 2016, they didn’t expect to create the widespread community they have today. Desiree and Sal love partnering with other local businesses, like Hood Famous Bakeshop and Umami Kushi, and treat everyone who comes into Seattle Fish Guys like family. Seattle Fish Guys is a Central District staple for fresh, seasonal seafood like oysters, salmon, and king crab, as well as a quick meal for chowder and Hawaiian poke bowls.

“Our business is for the neighborhood and for the community. Everyone is part of our Ohana — every customer becomes part of our family.” —Desiree Chinn

Featured image: Central Cafe and Juice Bar has made a point of encouraging and supporting efforts to get out the vote (Photo: Intentionalist)