Geneva man goes on 68 city road trip to get people to shop local

A Geneva man is putting his money where his mouth is. 

Bobby Johnson is the co-founder of Yocal. Johnson and Dave Loveland launched the service for locally owned businesses in March 2020. Two weeks later the COVID-19 shutdown began. 

"We couldn't sit around and not do anything," Johnson said. "We decided to start a movement called Keep Local Alive. It's about educating people about the importance of supporting locally owned businesses."

The pair first launched the movement in the Fox Valley area where Johnson is from. He says they quickly realized every city needed something like it. That's when the idea of a cross-country road trip was born. 

The trip started in Sarasota, Florida and ended in Seattle, Washington. At each stop along the way they visited local mom-and-pop shops ranging from clothing stores to pottery places to restaurants. 

"You don't realize how many different types of food and unique food there is," Johnson explained. "I tried a hamburger that was actually made with doughnut dough as the buns."

The pair visited 68 cities because they say 68 cents of your dollar stays and recirculates in the local economy when you spend local. 

"The best way you can invest in your community is go spend your dollars at the locally owned independent businesses that are in your community," Johnson said. "It means a lot."