Local Living Carmel aims to connect residents, hometown businesses

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Courtney Wright Miller grew up in Carmel. And like many people, she moved away after college. She spent 15 years away from her hometown, including six years in India.

Miller

So when she decided to move back home in 2016 with her husband and two kids, she discovered that much had changed. Things weren’t bad, just different, and so she wanted to replant her roots. She wanted to discover “true Carmel.”

“It didn’t feel like home to me, so we figured we would find a way to connect again,” she said. “There was the common theme of interviewing people and doing a podcast. It was going to be a good project for me to find out what’s going on here.”

Miller began interviewing people in Carmel. She started with Roman Chang at the Carmel Old Town Antique Mall. He recommended other people for her to interview, and the project took off.

“I was hooked,” she said. “And pretty much everyone said yes. They all had interesting stories and wanted to share them.”

Interviewees included city councilor Jeff Worrell, Vivian Lawhead of SoHo Cafe, Bruce Calabrese at Old Town Tavern, Roy LeBlanc at Mudbugs Cajun Cafe, Joe Lazzara at Joe’s Butcher Shop, Jason Peek at Main Street Barber Shop, Matt Frey of Bub’s Burgers, Bill Wiggam of Carmel Welding, Steve Greenberg and Brian Kelly of Current in Carmel and many more. She said she has a tape recorder full of interviews to post online.

She found a common theme: supporting local businesses.

“The more I talked to people, I realized how critical local businesses are to our economy,” she said. “And the power is in the consumers’ hands. We can shop local and really make an impact.”

In November 2016, she registered her website, locallivingcarmel.com, where visitors can find her podcast. She also has a Facebook page and Twitter account to alert followers about local businesses in Carmel.

“I wanted to reach out to the me from a year ago,” she said. “This is a way for people to find out who truly is local and is not a chain.”

Miller’s next venture is launching a local coupon book that would be sold to residents for a small fee. Subscribers would get access to a book full of discounts from only local businesses — no chains. Businesses would pay only $100 a year for the quarterly book, and distribution parties will be held at local businesses. Her goal is 50 unique businesses for each book to be launched in April 2017.

For more information, visit locallivingcarmel.com.

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