by Kirby LindsayOn Wednesday, August 11, the Fremont ‘Buy Local’ campaign (which launched in December 2009) takes another step forward with two gatherings organized for Fremont and Wallingford business owners – and anyone else interested. As Jessica Vets, Executive Director of the Fremont Chamber of Commerce, invited, “come to which ever makes most sense for your schedule.”
Between a no-host breakfast at Roxy’s Diner (462 N 36th St) at 8:30 a.m. or Happy Hour specials at the Rusty Pelican (1924 N 45th St) from 5p-7p, Vets hopes to get people excited about supporting local business, with the help of Seattle Good Business Network, a non-profit organization that seeks to help locally owned businesses be more sustainable.
Why Buy Local?
The ‘shop local’, or ‘shop mindfully’, movement has been slowly attempting to shift consumer consciousness for decades – with research firmly behind these efforts. Research commissioned by the Austin Independent Business Association showed that for every $100 a consumer spends, in a chain store $14 stays in the community while in a locally owned store $45 remains. According to the Sustainable Connections website, non-profit organizations receive an average $250 more support from smaller business owners. Also, nationally, small businesses employ more people.
“You vote with your dollars,” Vets pointed out, “the more money you spend in Fremont, the more businesses will want to locate here.” She has met visitors (and locals) that tell her, “they love the environment of the stores, but they don’t shop there.” Worse still can be those who gripe when a store closes – and mourn because they ‘always meant’ to shop there.
As to a common, mistaken presumption about small, independently owned boutique stores, Vets insisted, “it’s not actually more expensive. You can go on-line and get a product at a lower price, but what have you really saved?” Empty storefronts, lost jobs, and a slack (or even dead) economy will slowly erode the entire community, when, “usually people are not saving that much,” Vets suggested. Internet-based businesses can create closed markets on products, then raise the price. Corporations homogenize product lines, while boutiques and small business can introduce innovative, creative and unique items.
“You should know where you are getting your stuff from,” Vets said, “It is like being on a diet – if you never think about it, you are going to gain weight but if you do think about having a second dessert, and what it will do…” When buying a pair of sneakers, consider the source of the materials and manufacturing – and balance comfort and style alongside the cost.
She wants everyone to ask, “I wonder if I can get it in Fremont,” before they buy. “People just assume they can’t get it here,” without asking a shopkeeper, Vets stated, “but talk to store owners about products you want to see. If you don’t ask, you’ll never get it here.”
As Fremont Goes ‘Buy Local’ Loco
A $2000 grant from the City of Seattle Office of Economic Development launched the Fremont Chamber ‘Buy Local’ campaign with banners put up to encourage mindfulness. Flyers will soon start to appear in area shops. The message – shop Fremont – may seem simple but it will require a change of habit most of us struggle to master.
It could also affect the collection of stores in Fremont, as Vets asks consumers to “tell the Chamber what kind of businesses you need to see here.” If you will shop them, they will be persuaded to come, so let Vets know at the gatherings on August 11 – or on-line today!
©2010 Kirby Lindsay. This column is protected by intellectual property laws, including U.S. copyright laws. Reproduction, adaptation or distribution without permission is prohibited.