Somerville Local First

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Shopping locally, joyfully and mindfully

Dec 10 12:02 pm

(Michael Kanter is really one of my favorite people, though an outside observer watching one of our conversations, riddled with lovingly acerbic New England wit and mocking, might find that hard to believe.  Michael is a leader, a business owner and one of the key people in New England when it comes to authenticity of the movement.  I’m glad to have him as a partner in this work, and was inspired by reading his thoughtful message here.  I hope you will be as well.  ~ Joe, SLF)

by Michael Kanter

We all have heard that this time of year is often critical for the success of many businesses. But why should anyone care? Those businesses made their own decisions to open their doors, why should I worry myself about their success? And what can my purchases do to help those businesses? Besides, I need to watch my own finances carefully especially in this economy. And, what difference is it if they stay in business or not? All of these are actually and seriously important questions.

First I want to make the distinction of what businesses I believe deserve your greatest support. Full disclosure, I am the co-owner, with my wife Elizabeth Stagl, of Cambridge Naturals which we started and have owned for 37 years. That noted, I assume that if you are reading this you are likely at least aware of and perhaps a supporter of the “local movement” and in particular that you are aware of the benefits to your community of spending your dollars at locally owned and independent businesses. So, of course, I am suggesting that this season, like all seasons, you mindfully and intentionally make your gift purchase at such businesses.

Michael has also been instrumental in helping Cambridge Local First and Somerville Local First develop a strong working relationship

As the news of a very challenging economy continues to circulate many of us have gotten very nervous about our savings, our jobs, our homes and our communities. And many of us worry about our friends and loved ones for the same reasons. The daily papers (what’s left of them, anyway), the radio and tv news, internet updates, etc., etc. rarely feature anything positive that is happening in the world or even our communities. Quite the contrary; open up or turn on any of those sources and it seems to be all bad news all the time.

I am not here to argue that there is not enough ugly and destructive “stuff” happening. I am suggesting, however, that the local movement in all its ramifications is one of the very brightest and most optimistic movements to “come down the pike”. Furthermore, I suggest that joyfully supporting (read: shopping at) your locally owned and independent businesses is one of the ways you can directly participate in this positive movement for social change.

Here’s why.

Most of us who have opened such businesses have done so with the intention of offering the community products and services that are unique and we are thrilled to be part of the fabric of our towns and regions. A mere fraction of us have set out to “get rich” (and of those few that did, very few succeed).

Further, few entrepreneurs have thoughts or plans of attempting to build our businesses in ways that would take us out of our communities such as franchising or other growth concepts that would make us less active and direct participants in our place.

In fact, in my long retail experience in this area, I am really impressed with the activism and involvement of locally owned and independent business owners and managers in supporting non-profits and in truly being honorable members of the communities where we work and often live.

As well, the existence of unique locally owned and independent businesses is part of what makes our towns attractive to residents and visitors alike. And, yes let’s remember those studies that show that so many more dollars that are spent at independent community businesses have the power of staying in the area and strengthening our communities.

Most if not all of us have people we want to buy gifts for at this time of year and most if not all of us have limits to our budgets. Just like our local and state and national governments need to be mindful of spending we all wish to be mindful of not going beyond our “comfort levels” or beyond our budgets.

My suggestion is this: It is to all our benefit if we consciously and very intentionally purchase such gifts from businesses that are in our communities because they have chosen to be there for the good of the community…as well as to make a honest living.

Let’s also be very clear about what is at stake. Your community businesses simply can not survive without your support. Though many are thriving, many are facing the same challenges that individuals and local governments are. Some are truly hurting. Your active support is vital for their financial survival and as importantly for the morale of the owners and staff alike.

Shifting your Shopping for the Holidays gives multiple gifts

Your thoughtful holiday purchases have much more power than you may realize.  Buy joyfully!  By making those purchases, you are giving a real gift to those businesses while helping to build a strong local economy.

Some may call this “win, win”…I call it community, community.

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developed with a whole lotta local love by trulygood