The 30 Day #buyYEG Challenge: The Progress

Here's how my 30 Day #buyYEG Challenge went...

by emil tiedemann

LAST month, I threw an idea out there to get Edmontonians in the "buy local" mindset, and to try to focus on a lifestyle of supporting hometown and independent businesses and artists. For at least 30 days, that is. 

The "30 Day #buyYEG Challenge" is a simple way to support these local establishments and entrepreneurs (especially) during the downturn in the economy, as too many "ma & pa" shops close their doors for good as a result. 

But, I couldn't just talk the talk, encouraging others to participate in this challenge. So, for the last 30 days (starting March 1), I walked the walk, so to speak. That means I did all I could to reinvest in my hometown Edmonton, from what coffee I drank in the morning to what books I read before I went to bed at night. 

It's been an amazing 30 days of discovering so many awesome local spots and meeting some folks that I may never had met otherwise. And although this challenge is over, I will continue to focus on local when I can, especially now that I have such an appreciation for it. And food has never tasted so good!

In case you have no idea as to what I'm talking about, you can check out the original 30 Day #buyYEG Challenge post HERE! Once you're up to speed - and if you actually care to - you're welcome to take the challenge for yourself! And if you do, make sure to share your experiences online using the #buyYEG hashtag!

As for how my own #buyYEG Challenge, here's how it went...

DAY 1 of 30 (March 1):

Most mornings, I would grab a Timmy's or Starbucks on my way to work, but this being Day 1 of the challenge, I had my coffee at Blues Java Bar in the Capilano area instead. The coffee was the best I had in weeks, and the service was amazing. "Thank you so much for coming," the server said as I walked out the door. The difference here from some of the chain cafes I frequent is that she seemed genuine! For lunch, I tried a donair at the High Voltage Food & Coffee Bar on 103rd and 63rd Avenue. Honestly, it very well may have been the best donair I've ever had, and I've had my fair share over the years!  

The donairs at High Voltage Food & Coffee Bar are amazing!

Day 2 of 30 (March 2): 

Because the coffee and the service at Blues Java Bar was so incredible, I made it two days in a row. For lunch, I had another one of those amazing donairs from High Voltage Food & Coffee Bar. I also made it out to Audreys Books downtown and grabbed a copy of local author Shayne Woodsmith's My Brother Mercy, which I started reading later in the evening. I also needed to stop off to grab a few things after work, so stopped off at a small indie shop in Callingwood, Mini Max Convenience Store
#yeg author Shayne Woodsmith's 'My Brother Mercy.'

Day 3 of 30 (March 3):  

Although I had the day off of work today, I headed downtown this morning and grabbed a coffee from one of my favourite coffee shops in Edmonton, Three Bananas Cafe, on Churchill Square. As for lunch and supper, I just stayed in. However, I did purchase a copy of Edmonton singer Ruth B's "Lost Boy" online.

#yeg singer Ruth B's debut EP 'The Intro' features "Lost Boy" hit!
Day 4 of 30 (March 4): 

It's Friday!! I had my coffee this morning from Blues Java Bar again, where the coffee and the service is better than most places I've been to in all of Edmonton! I tried a donair sub for lunch at a place called More Subs, at 57th Avenue & 75th Street. Again, great service and food! Later that evening, to celebrate my nephew's 18th birthday, a bunch of us headed to Schanks Sports Grill on 178th & 99th Avenue. 

Day 5 of 30 (March 5):  

My mother and I drove down Stony Plain Road to Vi's for Pies for lunch this afternoon. We sat in the new bake shop section of the local business, at 134th Street, and each ordered a sandwich. I had the best chicken salad sandwich I have ever eaten, and my mom said the same about her ham & cheese. Sure, they were pricier than a place like Subway, but there's no doubt it was worth it and that we'll be back again soon! Afterwards, we grabbed a coffee from Cafe Blackbird on 142nd Street and 96th Avenue. Later in the evening, my buddy and I played some pool and had a few drinks at a neighbourhood pub called Sideliners, at 110th Avenue & 127th Street

My delicious chicken salad bunwich from Vi's for Pies!

Day 6 of 30 (March 6): 

Didn't get out of the house until noon, which is when I finally decided to just drive around until I found something for lunch. I ended up at La Poutine in the Garneau district for a traditional poutine. Amazing! Then I tried a banana bubble tea from Rice Bowl Deluxe in the Callingwood neighbourhood. Again, amazing!   

Traditional poutine from La Poutine in the Garneau region!
Day 7 of 30 (March 7):

I took a new route to work this morning so that I could try a different coffee place today, and ended up on Jasper Avenue at Coffee Bureau. I've been there before and so I know how great the coffee and service is...nothing has changed, still great! I met my buddy for lunch at the Urban Diner on 109th in the Garneau area...the club sandwich was pretty good, but the service sorta sucked. Oh well, you can't win 'em all. 
Club sandwich & fries from Urban Diner in the Garneau district!

Day 8 of 30 (March 8):

I ended up at Blues Java Bar again for both my morning coffee and lunch, where I had one of the best tuna salad sandwiches I've ever tasted! The service here has to be amongst the best in all of Edmonton. The barista/cashier knew my name by day two, and was going to let me pay another day if I didn't have enough cash on me to pay for my order (they only do cash here)! Fortunately, I had a lot of change in my vehicle. 
Tuna salad sandwich from Blues Java Bar in the Capilano area!

Day 9 of 30 (March 9): 

I had been to Transcend Coffee before, but not the Garneau location, right next to the historic Garneau Theatre. It's a spacious and cozy shop with some pretty good coffee and lots of laptop zombies! For lunch, I happened to come across a shop called Koffee Cafe, in the Mill Woods neighbourhood. I tried their tuna salad sandwich, which was awesome (as was the service)! 

Day 10 of 30 (March 10):

As usual, I grabbed my morning coffee from Blues Java Bar in Capilano, but I had the rest of the afternoon off, so I ordered a cheese pizza from Firestone Pizza in the deep west end. Again, pretty good food and service, and I'll likely be back soon! I also had to make a quick stop at the Mini Max Convenience Store in Callingwood.
Cheese pizza from Firestone Pizza near the River Cree Casino!

Day 11 of 30 (March 11): 

I returned to Blues Java Bar to grab my morning coffee...I can't get over the amazing barista at this place! I had a quick drink at Pizza 99 in Mill Woods at lunch, and then headed to Duggan's Boundary Irish Pub in the "French Quarters" for the most amazing soft pretzels! That dipping sauce is worth the trip alone! I may have also downed a couple of wobbly pops there too!
Duggan's Boundary Irish Pub in the "French Quarters."

Day 12 of 30 (March 12): 

It was one of those I-don't-feel-like-doing-anything sorta days, despite the beautiful weather, so the only time I made it out was for lunch. I grabbed a yummy donair from Firestone Pizza in the west end. 

Day 13 of 30 (March 13): 

I live just minutes from the west end Italian Centre Shop, and so drove over for my morning coffee; good stuff, but a tad pricey, and the "large" size cups would be "small" anywhere else ($2.50). But, I love these types of places, so I'll have to suck it up!

Coffee from the Italian Centre Shop in the west end!
Day 14 of 30 (March 14):   

Returned to Blues Java Bar this morning for my coffee, and then headed down to Whyte Avenue in Old Strathcona for lunch. I ended up at Blush Lane Organic Market for some fruit and some sorta blueberry and maple juice. I have never been to this place before, but I will definitely be back. It's amazing to still be surprised by how many cool spots there are in Edmonton that I am unaware of.

Bananas & a RISE drink from Blush Lane Organic Market!

Day 15 of 30 (March 15): 

I hit up the original Transcend Coffee shop just off Argyll for my morning coffee, which I haven't been to in YEARS!! Once again, awesome service and coffee! I grabbed another pretzel (with this AMAZING horse radish mustard dip) and a quick wobbly pop at Duggan's Boundary Irish Pub at lunchtime. I'd come here just for the service alone!  

Day 16 of 30 (March 16): 

I seem to have a new regular coffee joint, returning once again to Blues Java Bar this morning. One of the other cool things about this place is that the manager/owner is from Africa and has all sorts of beautiful African arts and crafts in her shop as well. I got off of work early today, and so checked out Vi's for Pies for another chicken salad bunwich at lunchtime! I devoured it! 

Day 17 of 30 (March 17): 

I grabbed my morning coffee from Transcend in the Argyll area again...awesome staff here!! For lunch, I had the yummiest turkey sandwich ever, from Wild Earth Bakery & Cafe on 99th Street and 89th Avenue!! It even had that grainy bread that I never liked, but it didn't was delicious and so freakin' fresh! I'm sure I'll be back to this place soon!

Turkey & cheese sandwich from Wild Earth Bakery & Cafe.

Day 18 of 30 (March 18): 

Grabbed my coffee from Blues Java Bar this morning, and then returned to the Wild Earth Bakery & Cafe on 99th for lunch. This time I had an egg salad sandwich and a cane sugar ginger ale. I also checked out the Wild Earth Foods store next door, which is a great choice for a local independent shop to grab your groceries, including fresh fruits and veggies.

Egg salad sandwich & ginger ale from Wild Earth Bakery & Cafe.

Day 19 of 30 (March 19): 

Today I took the day off and did nothing! I stayed home pretty much the entire day, working on projects and slaying digital zombies. 

Day 20 of 30 (March 20): 

I didn't do much today either, although I did venture outdoors for a coffee from the Wild Earth Cafe on the Valley Zoo grounds. You don't actually need to purchase a zoo pass to get into this cafe, by the way.

Day 21 of 30 (March 21): 

Monday morning! Grabbed a much-needed coffee from Blues Java Bar, and then had a spicy chicken wrap from More Subs on 75th Street. They have awesome service and a decent selection of subs and wraps.   

Day 22 of 30 (March 22): 

I went to the Transcend in Argyll for a coffee this morning. For lunch, I grabbed my first-ever latte from Block 1912 (which is currently going through a pretty cool transition) on Whyte Avenue, and then a turkey and cheddar subwich from Whyte's Blush Lane Organic Market.

Smoked cheddar & turkey sandwich from Blush Lane Organic Market.

Day 23 of 30 (March 23): 

I had my morning coffee at Blues Java Bar (surprise, surprise!). I only had to work half the day today, so I headed to Lewis Estates for lunch at Monty's Pizza & Steakhouse. It's actually not too bad, and the service was pretty good, as was the grilled chicken burger and fries I had. I also had a couple of rum drinks, I have to admit. 

Day 24 of 30 (March 24): 

I had a latte from Transcend Coffee (Argyll) this morning, and had another half day at work! So, for lunch I returned to the west end and the Mayfield area for an egg salad sandwich (the daily special) and fries from the Refinery Grill. I have been here once before and the service is pretty good here, as is the food. I also grabbed a couple of things next door at some liquidation place.

Egg salad sandwich from the Refinery Grill.

Day 25 of 30 (March 25): 

It's Easter Friday!! I had no work today, and so I stayed on the west end for lunch, grabbing a donair from Donair Joint on 88th Avenue, not far from West Edmonton Mall. 

Day 26 of 30 (March 26):

I love the fact that I live just minutes away from the Italian Centre West, which is where I ended up for breakfast this morning - coffee and a delicious cheese croissant. It was so good, in fact, that I ended up going back there for two more for lunch! They actually stuff cheese inside the croissants, in addition to topping them with cheese! 

Day 27 of 30 (March 27): 

It's Easter Sunday, and so I didn't exactly get out of the house much today. We had a big supper with the family, and then just chilled indoors for the rest of the day

Day 28 of 30 (March 28): 

I drove down to the McCauley neighbourhood (near downtown) for lunch today, specifically to grab lunch at the original Italian Centre. This place is always bustling, and I completely understand why. I ordered a simple cheese thin crust pizza to go (there was no room to sit!), and although it was good, I'd probably go with something else next time.
Thin crust cheese pizza from the Italian Centre in McCauley.

Day 29 of 30 (March 29):           

I had my coffee this morning at Blues Java Bar in the Capilano area, where I get to know the barista a little more every time. At lunchtime, I grabbed a cheeseburger from the Time Out Pub at 96 Street and 66 Avenue. It was pretty damn good, and the service is always pretty stellar here at this neighbourhood pub. 
Cheeseburger & fries from the Time Out Pub.

Day 30 of 30 (March 30): 

It's my final day of the 30-Day #buyYEG Challenge!! To celebrate, I had a latte from Transcend Argyll...I think I'm addicted to these things now! At lunchtime, I had some delicious eggs and maple bacon from the Blue Chair Cafe, where I ran into the lead singer and guitarist of a local rockabilly band called Sam Spades. After I left the restaurant, I headed to Whyte Avenue and to Blackbyrd Myoozik to grab the only vinyl copy of the band's Wolf record. 

Local band Sam Spades' 'Wolf' record from Blackbyrd Myoozik!


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