Supporting local Lee Vining businessesMay 4th, 2016 by Nora, Lead Naturalist Guide
Lee Vining is getting busier as spring brings more visitors with the arrival of fishing season. In preparation for the fishing season opener (April 30), a few more businesses in town opened their doors after a winter of hibernation. I made it my goal today to support as many local businesses as possible, because we all work together as a town to both provide for locals and bring visitors here to boost the town economy and garner love for this community and its surrounding beauty (like Mono Lake!). If people didn’t visit Lee Vining and support the businesses, it would be a lot harder to protect the lake because a whole lot fewer people would know it existed.
The best part of the day was interacting with the business owners and employees. It reminded me that I am a part of a vibrant, caring community. There is nothing like going into a store or restaurant where the people know your name and welcome you with a big smile.
My shop-a-thon started at the Mono Market. I shop here pretty much every day (so often that the lovely cashier has my charge account number memorized) and I love the variety that the owner, Chris, provides—he has organic options for almost everything, and more easily affordable options as well—and the produce section is well stocked for such a small market.
For lunch, I bought fish tacos and french fries from the Whoa Nellie Deli at the Tioga Gas Mart. Longtime employee Jackie and I discussed when Tioga Pass might be opening and how we can’t wait for the live music at the Deli to start again (Thursday evenings throughout the summer).
Next I went to the Bronze Bear Trading Post, where I hung out with the owner Cheryl and caught up on how things had been going with her. We admired the new blankets and sandals that had just came in. I eventually picked out a beautiful turquoise ring that is now settled on my left index finger.
I crossed the street to check out Beaver’s Sporting Goods. They have everything! Fishing gear, home improvement tools, clothes, kitchenware, games, camping gear, you name it. I chatted with Brad and Margie about the season starting up and walked out of there the proud owner of a shiny new hammer and a soft microfiber towel.
Later in the day, I walked up to the Mono Cone to eat a delicious chocolate and vanilla swirled ice cream cone before the storm came in and made it cold again. Yum! Owner Cara told me her 11-month-old grandson had just started walking, so I poked my head in and watched him toddle around. Big smiles.
I walked across the street to the Chevron station and rented the Pixar movie “Inside Out” which I’ve been meaning to watch for ages. Goodies in hand, I headed back towards the office, proud that I had walked Lee Vining from south to north and achieved my goal of visiting many of the town’s great businesses. But I forgot one! I ran back to my office at the Mono Lake Committee Information Center & Bookstore and purchased a book from Robbie who was closing the store for the night.
Tomorrow, I will start the day at Mono Cup with a nice hot cup of tea and fill my truck’s gas tank at the Shell Station. I got an oil change there just last week. I’ll also visit the Eastern Sierra Interpretive Association‘s bookstore at the US Forest Service Visitor Center on the north end of town.
There are still a few businesses that are getting close to opening and I can’t wait! The El Mono Motel & Latte Da Coffee Shop will open on Friday, May 13. Epic Cafe in Lee Vining, a brand new restaurant, will be opening in the next few weeks. Bodie Mike’s BBQ will open soon as well (it joins its neighbor Nicely’s, the only restaurant open all winter) and the local laundromat will open near the end of May. There are also motels and a few other small businesses that sell services rather than goods. I try to support them as much as possible in other ways.
My day of local shopping was a success and I know that I will frequent these spots all summer. I hope our visitors will too! When you visit, know that these businesses are owned by wonderful, caring, and friendly people that keep this community flourishing.