How to Give Up Money for Good

We live in an age that provides opportunities to support and fight for social justice causes at every turn. Signing a petition online is often as easy as entering your name, zip code, and email address. Stories of injustice and outrage can be exposed and shared with a click on all social media and blogging platforms. Twibbons, hashtags, and viral challenges sweep through our communities in a matter of minutes.

With the increased awareness of social justice campaigns, it’s no surprise that businesses and retailers have found a way to market social justice as quintessential to their mission as well. The rise of the Buy One Give One campaign (Warby Parker, Tomsand Baby Teresa to name a few) is one of the many ways we see this today. You can purchase everything from shoes to books and in-turn donate an item of the same kind to a person in need. T-shirt shops provide advocates the opportunity to support worthy causes while also displaying their support (or disapproval) of practices. Amazon Smile allows the savvy online shopper to designate a charity and Amazon will make a donation of 0.5% of the price of eligible purchases on her behalf.
Some people get angry when their favorite brand or service gets political. I personally like to see the human side of a business. And while yes, I know it’s not bad for business, I’d rather live in a world where supporting a worthy cause is good marketing than in a world where it isn’t.

Many of us like putting our money where our mouth is. So what if you can support your cause and support your local economy at the same time? Here are a few places around Knoxville that let you shop for a cause while also keeping your dollars local:

Photo cred – Michael Davis

Yassin’s Falafel House

If you live in the area, you’ve probably already heard about Yassin’s Falafel House. It was featured nationally by SquareUp (with a visit from Jack Dorsey, CEO of Square and Twitter ) and locally on WBIR. With the spotlight on immigration reform and the refugee crisis, many Knoxvillians are looking for a way to show their support for refugees struggling to find a home away from home. Yassin Terou, a Syrian refugee, built the business on memories from home and the American dream. The menu features traditional favorites from Middle Eastern cuisine like chicken shawarma, hummus, baba ghanoush, baklava, and of course, falafel.

Location: 706 Walnut Street (Downtown)
If adoption is part of your journey or you know someone who has built their family through adoption, you also know just how financial straining it can be simply to bring home their child.  The Empty Cup is a West Knox coffee shop that hopes to make the financial hurdle of adoption just a little bit easier. In addition to all the fare of a normal coffee shop, this shop also features live music, game nights, children’s storybook readings, and playroom just for kids. Onwhy it’s called The Empty Cup, the website simply states, “As the community pours into The Empty Cup by purchasing coffee, visiting the marketplace, or donating time, the coffeehouse will pour its net profit back out in the form of adoption grants. That’s why the cup stays empty.”
Location: 9111 Executive Park Drive (West Knox)

 More and more industrial farming has taken over in the United States leaving local farmers with the tough choice to sell their land and seek new employment. Shopping for produce at your local farmers market provides an income for local growers while giving shoppers the chance to interact with farmers, learn more about the growth processes, and have a little fun at the same time.

 The Market Square Farmers Market interestingly operates in the same place as the old Market House which served as the marketplace for local farmers as early as the 1850s. The market is open from 9:00am – 2:00pm every Wednesday and Saturday, May through November, with special Winter and a holiday market to provide more year-round opportunities. Between local food trucks and farmers, you can purchase everything from eggs to lavender, dog biscuits to potatoes, buttermilk to bacon.

 Location: Market Square Knoxville (Downtown)

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