What does “local” mean to you? Merriam-Webster dictionary defines local as, “belonging or relating to a particular area or neighborhood, typically exclusively so.”

For those of us living and/or working in the Mon Valley, it means everything. We do not have the national chain restaurants and big box stores that exist around Washington. In the Mon Valley, we ARE local. To us, local represents our lifeblood.

This very newspaper describes local quite well. “Local stores,” the Observer-Reporter says, “serve as more than just places to shop, but as gathering places. Places to catch up with neighbors, find out the latest news, and share stories with family and friends. Locally owned business owners also have a higher commitment to the overall well-being of the community, as most live in the area.”

What does a day of being local in the Mon Valley look like? A perfect local Saturday could begin with breakfast at Perked Up Café in Charleroi or the Early Bird Diner in Donora. Perhaps it will include picking up a prescription or playing the lottery at Dierken’s Pharmacy in Monongahela.

You will probably need to pick up a few essentials at Duritza’s market in North Belle Vernon. And while you are there, stop by NBV Community Bank Park and take a few laps around the track. It is good for getting the blood flowing, and you will likely encounter councilman R.J. Sokol. Rest assured, he will put you to work. Local also means rolling up your sleeves and volunteering in the community.

You may follow your errands with lunch at By George in Monessen, with a stop at Keystone Bakery for a pastry. You earned it after walking on the track earlier. After lunch, stop at Prima Diva Boutique in Charleroi or Jazzy Boutique in Belle Vernon to get a little something for your significant other.

If you are so inclined, you can see my man Del Sapko at Second Skin Tattoo in Charleroi. He promises that tattoos do not hurt. Hmmm, we will see about that.

By now, you are getting hungry again. How about dinner? My favorite place is River House Café in Charleroi. Mike and Lori Coury will treat you like family, you will see a ton of familiar faces, and the food is awesome.

Now that we are adequately fueled and our business is done, let’s head back to Monongahela to catch a concert at the Aquatorium. We call it that because it is an auditorium situated on the river. Never mind . . . you just have to experience it. And there is no better way to finish a beautiful Mon Valley summer evening than with a cold beverage of your choice on the deck at Sonny’s in Belle Vernon, or Smitty’s Marina along the Monongahela River in Charleroi.

That is a full day of local.

Jamie Protin is founder and principal of The Protin Group in Belle Vernon.

To submit business-related columns, email Rick Shrum at rshrum@observer-reporter.com.

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