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Buy Local Campaigns: Helping Local Businesses Create Sustainable Communities

The following is a guest post by Ann of Eat Breathe Blog.

Buy Local movements have been popping up in towns all over the country from the East Coast to Middle America and the West Coast. With the increase in use of social media for grassroots organizing, Buy Local movements are picking up speed quickly; businesses and local economies are reaping the benefits.

The Buy Local movement is a grassroots word-of-mouth movement consisting of local businesses, local customers and local policy makers all working together to help improve their local economies by keeping money circulating in the community. In terms of sustainability, the Buy Local movement seeks to reduce environmental degradation by reducing the distance products need to travel to make it to the customer. The movement also stimulates local economies and creates a stronger since of community.

Numerous studies across the country have shown that local businesses help to keep more money within their local economies than businesses headquartered in distant locations.

In 2008, a Grand Rapids, Mich. study conducted by Civic Economics found that for every $100 spent by local businesses, $68 stayed within the community, compared to $43 by non-local businesses. The significance of the Grand Rapids study lies in the fact that Grand Rapids represents the average American city more so than previous studies in other cities like San Francisco, where the studies showed virtually the same results. It’s easy to say San Francisco is unique; especially if you’ve ever been there. What this study proves is whether the home of the business is a bustling eccentric metropolis or an average American Main Street town, local businesses are of vital importance to the economic well-being of the community.

Read on for all the benefits of buying local…

Photo by notmargaret

Strong local economies equal more business.

You don’t need a market analysis to realize that. Healthy, sustainable economies stimulate business growth and job creation. By participating in Buy Local campaigns businesses can develop a loyal customer base dedicated to keeping their money within the community. Many customers who participate in Buy Local campaigns are dedicated to their communities and are actively participating in the campaign as a means to help support and maintain a vibrant, diverse and economically stable business community.

Implement the Buy Local movement into your business and community.

Incorporating a Buy Local campaign into your marketing strategy may take a bit of leg work and may require a change in some business practices, depending upon the requirements set forth by your local campaign. Some campaigns may only require that the business be locally owned. Some may require that the business also shop locally and use local services.

It’s not always realistic that all of your business needs will be met locally but those that can should. A Buy Local campaign requires businesses to network and support one another. It would not only be unethical to participate in a Buy Local campaign without buying anything local, it would be counterproductive. For a Buy Local campaign to work, businesses have to work together and support each other.

Businesses participating in Buy Local campaigns are responsible for educating customers on the importance of buying local, and how the community benefits. There are some customers who will actively seek out local businesses; many will have to be reminded that the success of the local economy and its businesses requires active participation on the part of the community.

Photo by Mrs. Bennettar

Spread the word!

Many Buy Local campaigns have stickers for businesses to place in their windows, educational materials for businesses to pass out and other promotional campaign materials. In addition, tables promoting the Buy Local campaign and its participants are set up at local farmers markets and community festivals.

You can find out if your town has an active Buy Local campaign by going to the website for The Business Alliance for Local Living Economies. There you’ll find more information about the effects Buy Local campaigns have on a community and businesses, as well as information on which towns already have active campaigns and how to contact them. If your town doesn’t already have an active campaign you’ll find information and resources on how to begin organizing a campaign for your area.

Does your community promote a Buy Local campaign? How have you seen buying local benefit your family and/or your community?

Ann R. is an avid reader, writer, blogger and volunteer community organizer who believes strong sustainable communities can be created through social media networking and active community involvement. Ann is a single mom, a working artist and designer. She is motivated by creativity, ‘outside of the box’ thinking and her son.

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17 Comments

  1. Anne @ Modern Mrs Darcy

    My community has a wonderful Buy Local campaign, but you can support local businesses whether or not one exists. (Thanks for the great resource!)

    Story: an organization we’re associated with made it a point to buy all the supplies they could from the small-town local hardware store instead of the Lowe’s or Home Depot 15 miles away. Day to day things like yard bags, lightbulbs and small tools were quite a bit more expensive from the local hardware store. But they developed wonderful relationships with the owner and staff, which was a pleasure AND led to steep discounts on major purchasers like a snowblower or 30 gallons of paint. And that made the expense even out in the long run.

    But please don’t think that’s the only reason to go local!

  2. Jess

    I totally agree with that concept! can you imagine what kind of life could we live if we didn’t have money but an exchangeable service to one another- I really think that might be the next step of such a communities.

  3. Anna

    This is a great idea. Return to the simple and intimate communities like they used to be. love it.

  4. sap

    i think the same as Jess and Anna – that’s how we used to live long time ago (or maybe not so long). i think it’s more natural, less fake, and everybody can enjoy from this.

  5. ella

    I love seeing and buying “locally grown” at the store where i shop. It’s amazing how sustainable our communities are and how little do we know or use the resources that are available to us, instead we chase pleasures far and foreign.

  6. Kourtney L.

    I am really excited about the idea of buying local. There is a sense of quality and care that goes into the local businesses and products. Big box companies and franchise grocery stores are convenient, but lack individuality and quality. I believe that smaller businesses are better, because there is more consistancy.

    We are doing our best to shop locally, although it may be harder (convenience facter). It’s nice to hear about the economic and community benefits. I think it is easy to forget how many reasons going local is beneficial to more that just me.

  7. Living the Balanced Life

    Thank you for sharing this information. I feel very strongly about buying local, but is very difficult where I live. I am trying to buy produce at local farmers markets, not one where everything is shipped in. Going to check out the link you gave to see if there is anything else close to me that I do not know about.
    Thanks again!

  8. Krisha@fireproofsafesshop.com

    This is a great idea. I love to join and support the campaign of Buy Local. These would be a great help for our whole local community!

  9. Rachel @ The Travel Pen

    I really love the idea of supporting the local economy in our own communities. Plus, local produce just tends to taste better!

    I also think that supporting local communities is something that can be on our radar when we are traveling away from home. Typically, traveling/vacation tends to be a time when we focus more on self. But what if visiting a place gave us an excuse to ask, “how can I be a blessing to this community?” What if vacation were not just an opportunity to indulge self but a chance to give to those around us?

  10. Anne @ Modern Mrs Darcy

    I read and enjoyed this article on Monday, so imagine my surprise when I walked into my library this morning and was handed a copy of the hot-off-the-press Buy Local Guide for my town! If my city has one, I’m sure others do, too. The guide features the obvious local businesses, like coffeeshops, restaurants and boutiques, but also has listings for exterminators, tree-trimmers and plumbers. Plus, there are coupons 🙂

    • Nicole

      That’s awesome, what timing! Thanks for sharing, Anne! 🙂

  11. Aliyah @scrubshopworldwide.com

    I enjoyed reading your article! I must say it’s a good post! We must really patronize our own local goods and services! Thank you for sharing this post!

  12. durban wedding photographers

    Big box companies and franchise grocery stores are convenient, but lack individuality and quality. I believe that smaller businesses are better, because there is more consistancy.

  13. crowd SPRING

    Really nice One!! I feel very strongly about buying local, but is very difficult where I live. I am trying to buy produce at local farmers markets.This is a great idea. Thanks

  14. Vincent Margott

    It’s Great !! Buy-local campaigns have sprouted in scores of communities over the last decade. Typically organized by nonprofit networks of entrepreneurs, the idea is to convince consumers to spend their money at independent businesses in their own communities.

  15. Ben

    I love the buy local movement. It’s not only better economically for our towns and cities, I think it’s better for the animals as well, when we buy meat from local farmers. It’s really sad that fast food restaurants import all their meat from places like Brazil that have less quality control standards. I hope the buy local movement spreads. It takes the whole community participating to really do it well.

  16. Radha Madhav Dham

    Local businesses plays an role of vital importance to the economic well-being of the community.

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