Buy-Local Movement Sweeping America

There's a growing movement in America to buy-local. What’s more, this groundswell of support for small businesses is picking up steam. The number of buy-local networks has doubled since 2005, while supporting evidence shows that retailers in these groups have felt less of an impact from the recession.

As consumers vote with their dollars, they’re deciding to support independent businesses for the following reasons:
    • Consumers want their hard earned money to stay in their community. When spending with a Mom n' Pop store, 3 times more money is retained with the local economy.

    • Local businesses produce the majority of jobs in communities.

    • Consumers are increasingly concerned about the environment and carbon emissions from transporting goods over long distances. As such, they know local independents are more likely to carry locally grown produce, and products created by American manufacturers.

    • Lastly, there are the many intangible benefits, like creating vibrant downtown street scenes, and shopping in stores with a colorful, distinct atmosphere. Further, there is the feel-good aspect of a store owner who greets people by name, and truly appreciates her customers.

While people do want to buy-local, it helps to have someone encouraging them to open their wallets for independent businesses. Non-profits, grassroots efforts, and local business networks are filling this vital role. One of these champions is, Buffalo First, an organization spearheading the initiative to buy-local, and to promote a green and fair economy in my neighboring city of, Buffalo.

An important part of any buy-local initiative is to educate, and entice local shoppers to spend their money with independents. Buffalo First, is accomplishing this using a series of creative events that sets a shining example for others.

    • ‘The Premier Gourmet 100’, features delicious dishes from local restaurants, with all the fresh food having been grown within 100 miles of the city, instead of 1500 miles away.

    • ‘Love Your Mom n’ Pop’, encourages people to buy from Mom n’ Pop shops during the Mother’s Day, (May 1st –10th), and Father’s Day, (June 12th-21st), weeks. What a great idea for boosting business, especially since these are two of the top gift giving holidays, with people spending an average of $123.89 on Mom, and $94.54 on Dad, in 2008.

    • ‘Move-IT’, is a street game with an after party that takes participants on a scavenger hunt where they visit local businesses throughout Buffalo.

Another crucial part to a buy-local initiative is educating small businesses about what they can do to encourage shoppers to support independents. Another buy-local initiative leading the charge in this area is Oak Park's, "Shop The Village."

In addition to events geared toward shoppers, the organization hosts informational classes for local businesses. This includes topics such as creating in store displays that attract customers, to effectively marketing your business using social media. I really like this two-pronged approach, as it’s important to give local businesses the information and tools to compete.

If your business is part of a buy-local initiative, I’d love to hear from you. Has your involvement lessened the impact of the recession? What types of buy-local events have had the greatest success for your company? Feel free to write a comment, or email me at jkanclerz(at)

Photo credit Dreamsjung and Peretzpup