How many of you shop locally? Guess what? Shopping online can can have a huge financial impact on your local economy. Jenn Savedge, our newest Green Gal Next Door and the editor of the Green Parent and numerous books brought her power of words to spur her town’s Buy Local Challenge initiative. Listen to the below video and podcast, as Jenn explains what she learned in helping her little town of Luray, Virginia rediscovered their local shops.
Just to give your some background, Jenn was approached by Liz Lewis of the Downtown Luray Initiative to help with the Buy Local Challenge. Over four months, Jenn, the ultimate wordsmith, crafted compelling posts encouraging local buying.
What Did She Discovered?
As Jenn explains, she realized that most town people really didn’t know what products exisited in the town. It was easier to punch in the word “Amazon” or go to a bigger town to obtain what was needed. She also learned that despite the public’s social media craze, the town wasn’t using their Facebook page to connect with its citizens.
Through Jenn’s effort, she created a buzz so that slowly but surely, people started buying locally. The conversation spilled into the Luray Downtown Facebook Page where people could regularly ask about where to find certain items.
Why Does it Matter if We Buy Locally?
As Jenn, explains dollars leaving the community hurts our neighbors who own stores. Those store owners employ people, pay for other services, and donate like kind gifts to our schools. In addition, those store owners pay taxes which benefit your town. The more tax money available, the more money available for parks, additional polices, and roadways.
You might be wondering is the buy local theory simply hype? According to a study prepared by Civic Economics, who was retained by the Local First of Grand Rapids, Michigan in 2008, local town lose significant dollars when residents shop outside the town. The study revealed the following as illustrated by the above chart:
“For $73 of every $100 spent stays in the community. By contrast, only $43 of every $100 spent at a non-locally owned business remains in the community.”
The studied noted that a 10% shift in consumer local spending would amount to 1600 new jobs, $140 million in new economic activity, and $50 million in job wages.
Local Buying is Green
If you wish to lower your carbon footprint, local shopping is the best option. Think about the gas used and car emissions generated to drive to the nearest big town. How about the travel miles your product logs before it shows up at your door?
Can You Teach an Old Dog New Tricks?
My last question to Jenn was how did the residents react to the initiative. She said the residents jumped on the bandwagon; however, the retailers slowly realize that they too had to participate in announcing sales and new products on the Luray’s Facebook Page.
Could We Do this in Our Town, Anna?
I joked with Jenn that she now has a new career. She is now referred to as the “Buy locally Lady.” In the video, Jenn provided me with some pearls of wisdom on how to make this plan work in any town. I urge you to watch it. In a nutshell, she explained you need one centralized organization to pull all the parties together. Utilize a social media outlet such as Facebook or an online Yahoo group to facilitate the conversation.
If your town doesn’t have a social savvy person, you can easily hire or obtain a volunteer who could coordinate your city’s effort. Or you can hire Jenn! (PS I get a 10% referral fee from every job that Jenn gets from this post. Just kidding.)
Join the Conversation:
- Has your Town initiated a buy local challenge? If so, what were the pros and cons of the challenge?
- Could such an initiative help your town?
- Do you buy locally? If not, what has stopped you.
- If you own a small store, is your store on Facebook? If not, how come?