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Reflections in Plaid

Nov 26 4:54 pm

by Joe Grafton

Well…that was interesting.

As the afternoon winds down on the day after Thanksgiving, I’m left to reflect on the whole Plaid Friday experience. I guess, if anything, it reaffirmed my belief in what we’re doing and injected new energy into our work.

It was surreal, hearing this Radio Boston piece comparing Plaid Friday to Small Business Saturday.  I’m no journalist, and a Google search turned up nothing, but I would guess AMEX has to have millions invested in that campaign.  And yet, here is the host asking which one will ‘stick’.  As you’ll see below, Plaid Friday came to New England with a much less resourced, but maybe as effective, approach.

Plaid Friday, if you have yet to hear, was created last year by local business owners and organizers in Oakland.   You can listen to one of the creators on WBUR’s Here and Now .  What I think is so amazing is that without any truly organized or staffed group trying to promote it or pitch it, communities all over the nation adopted the concept and set it free into their communities.

And the buzz, to me at least, looked serious.

The idea came to New England through sister organization Seacoast Local’s Karen Marzloff and SLF blogger and good friend of mine, Jody Colley of the East Bay Express.  Both amazing entrepreneurs from the independent alt weekly media, they also both work closely with their local business networks.  From there, Karen shared the story at our regional gathering of networks, which spawned the 10% Shift 2 years ago among other things.

And that was it.  Networks representing thousands of businesses agreed (NELBF), on the spot, to organize our own communities and work together to spread the Shift Your Shopping / Buy Local campaign throughout the holiday season. The four members of the Steering Committee (we’re really excited to see that number grow to 7 in 2011!) Laury Hammel & Stacy Mitchell (authors of the Op-Ed piece this week), Karen & I had a conference call on November 6th where we hashed out a plan for Plaid Friday promo in New England.

The Op-Ed, the social media campaign, the PR…all of it came together as just one of the many things all of us are responsible for in our burgeoning, yet vastly under-resourced, networks.

And what does this really mean? Well, as wonderfully amazing as the people in the local movement are, I’m not sure that a fraction of our collective time is the equivalent of hundreds (thousands?) of hours of professional manpower and potentially millions of dollars that AMEX put towards their campaign.

What I do think it says, however, is that the tipping point for ‘local’ is getting ever closer. That the work we’ve been putting in locally in our communities is paying off.  That you: our readers, followers, advocates and evangelists, are talking to your friends and redefining social and cultural norms. That the Shift is starting to ‘sink in’ in our communities. And that we, the people, do have some power left in this society and exercising it can actually be fun and feel good. Two great matches for the holiday season.

As I was writing this blog post, I saw this come across my screen:

Plaid Friday trending on Twitter

Plaid Friday trending on Twitter...nice allegory

Trending on Twitter in Boston ~ #PlaidFriday is on that list and, while Black Friday is #1, its promoted.

One day, I hope, the work done by local networks will get the support from all sectors that it should.  We’ll be able to dedicate full time resources to campaigns like Plaid Friday, offer even more support and promotion for our members and continue to build on the idea that if we all come together, as a community, that we can make the world a better, more sustainable place.

But until then, we’ll keep trying things.  Some will be a hit,  others will not.  And when we find something that works, like Plaid Friday, you better believe we’ll do it better the second time around.  Plaid Friday Nationwide, from the grassroots…coming November, 2011.


Plaid Friday is simply the START of the Holiday Shopping Season, please Shift Your Shopping this year.  Shop-A-Palooza and Midnight Madness comin atcha next week!

Filed under: Local First — SLF @ 4:54 pm

Shift Your Shopping This Holiday: A Somerville Local First Member’s Perspective

Nov 24 11:16 am

Grand Home Goods and Apparel

Today’s post comes from Somerville Local First member Jon O’Toole, owner of Grand in Union Square. While you might be swayed by the deep discounts of big box Black Friday promotions, Jon weighs in on the importance of thinking local for your holiday shopping list. In support of the Plaid Friday movement, take a moment to read Jon’s thoughts on the matter:

It’s the most wonderful time of the year… Or at least that’s what Andy William says. Right?

Well this year, as a small business owner, all I can say is that depends. See 2010 has been a hell (sorry Santa) year to own a small business. From restaurants to retail and lawyers to landscapers this recession has really made it’s mark on each of us.

But, we can change that and make that old Andy Williams song ring really true with one simple act. Shift Your Shopping and shop locally and independently this holiday season. It’s literally easy as that.

Why you ask? Well mostly because shopping locally keeps money within OUR community. To illustrate this powerful fact look towards one of the many, many studies backing this up check out Somerville Local First’s Economic Studies on the Buy Local and 10 Percent Shift Movements. As you can see when you spend your money locally at a small/independent business your spend really makes a difference. Plus, it just feels right.

Study schmudie you say? Here’s a simpler more immediate reason for those of us in the Somerville business community. We need it. Small/independent businesses need the local community like no time in the past. Your dollars matter more than you can imagine this year. Each of you reading this can sincerely make a powerful statement with your wallet. Believe it!

I leave you with one simple request:

Just think about shopping locally this year. I’m not talking you have to do all your shopping at a small business, but maybe think about taking the 10% Shift and Shift Your Shopping just a tiny bit. It’s these baby steps that day after day, month after month, and year after year that will make Somerville even more great than it is today.

Jon O’Toole owner of Grand

Plaid Friday Videos are Here!

Nov 23 2:12 pm

We’re really excited to have some promotional videos for Plaid Friday this year (There’s also a great one coming for Shop-A-Palooza soon).  First and foremost, thanks to Michelle Alford for volunteering her time to create these for the movement.

We would love for our followers to post, like and share these as much as possible over the next week.  We know everyone is busy, but there is no time like the present to remind our friends and neighbors about the importance of shopping locally this holiday season.

Go Plaid this Friday - design by Truly Good Design

Go Plaid this Friday - design by Truly Good Design

Michelle is a writer, editor, marketer, and creator. Her weekly (or occassionally monthly) vlogs can be found here:

So, with no further ado, the Plaid Friday Video Promos!

Filed under: Local First, Shift Your Shopping, Shop-A-Palooza, The Movement, Video — Tags: — SLF @ 2:12 pm

This Friday - GO PLAID!

Nov 22 1:24 pm

This article originally appeared on in The Angle section.  That piece can be found here

Today, SLF begins a 6 week campaign, in collaboration with our sister networks from around New England, asking you to SHIFT YOUR SHOPPING this holiday season.  This is THE most important holiday season we’ve seen at SLF, and we are not sabre-rattling when we say that it is make or break for some of your favorite local retailers.

If not us, who?  If not now, when?  We think the time is now and ask you to join us, starting with Plaid Friday this week.

-The SLF Staff & Board

Go Plaid this Friday - design by Truly Good Design

Go Plaid this Friday - design by Truly Good Design

Let’s Make it Plaid Friday This Year

By Laury Hammel and Stacy Mitchell

For many Americans, Black Friday has come to epitomize all that’s gone wrong with this season of gift-giving and the long hours we’ll spend in the coming weeks negotiating traffic jams, crowds, and the endless aisles of big-box stores. That’s why we propose that New Englanders take a new approach to holiday shopping this year. Let’s use this special time to slow down and really savor the places where we live: our public squares and historic buildings, our sense of community, and the rich variety of locally owned stores and restaurants that contribute so much to the flavor and spirit of our region.

There’s no better place to begin than by reclaiming the day after Thanksgiving. Last year, a group in Oakland, California, came up with a great idea: “Plaid Friday.” It’s a simple concept. On Friday, shift away from the malls and “go local” instead. Stroll your neighborhood or downtown, stop by a few independent businesses, meet friends at a local coffee shop — in short, simply enjoy your community. And, while you’re at it, wear something plaid. This mainstay of New England wardrobes is the perfect alternative to Black Friday. With its endless variety of colors and combinations, plaid is a fitting symbol of the diversity of New England’s cities and towns and the local entrepreneurs who give them life.

In case you are worried that Plaid Friday won’t be as good for our economy and ailing job market as Black Friday, never fear. Even if you spend less this season, by shifting more of your shopping to locally owned businesses, you’ll actually create more jobs here in New England than if you shop only at chains and online retailers. Here’s why: Unlike national retailers, locally owned businesses rely on other local businesses for many goods and services, like accounting, printing, and so on. As a result, when you shop at a local business, a much larger share of what you spend is re-spent elsewhere in the community, supporting a variety of local jobs. Several studies have quantified this, finding that spending a dollar at a locally owned business creates about three times as much economic activity and more jobs in the region than spending that same dollar at a chain store. Given that each New Englander will spend an estimated $700 on holiday gifts this year, the potential economic benefits of shifting more of our purchases to locally owned businesses are sizeable.

Over the last few years, thousands of local businesses across New England have joined together to form organizations like Worcester Local First in Worcester, Mass., and Seacoast Local in Portsmouth, NH. These groups, which now number more than a dozen across the region, are working to rebuild their local economies and make New England a
place where independent businesses once again thrive.

Many have come up with creative ways to ensure that going local this holiday season is an easy and appealing choice for shoppers. Here in Greater Boston, for example, under the theme, “Think Local, Thank
Local,” members of Cambridge Local First are donating a percentage of their sales during the week beginning with Plaid Friday to a local nonprofit, Food for Free.

So, even as the media spends the next few weeks anxiously monitoring cash registers at national retailers, it’s worth remembering that a more significant indicator of New England’s economic well-being and
capacity to create jobs will hinge on how well our hometown businesses are faring.

Laury Hammel owns The Longfellow Clubs and is the Executive Director of the
Sustainable Business Network and a founder of Cambridge Local First. Stacy
Mitchell is a researcher with the Institute for Local Self-Reliance and vice
president of the Portland Independent Business & Community Alliance in
Portland, Maine.

A Gourmet Holiday Love Story at Ball Square Fine Wines

Nov 17 10:17 am

Not sure which wine to pick? The experts at Ball Square Fine Wines are happy to help!

Today on the Somerville Local First blog Joe Ferraro, Gourmet Foods Buyer of Ball Square Fine Wines, tells us how to organize a holiday spread with local and worldly flair. Try not to read this post on an empty stomach and enjoy the delicious gourmet suggestions:

Fall is officially upon us, with all the attendant gatherings and entertaining of the holiday season just around the corner. Putting out a fun and yummy spread for your friends and family can be a daunting task, but Ball Square Fine Wines has got you covered! With just one stop you can pick up a wide assortment of gourmet goodies, craft beer, fine wine and cocktail fixings, and we’re always happy to offer our advice if you need it.

Our gourmet food department is featuring lots of fun accompaniments for the libations of the season. Here are a few ideas:

Raclette ($11.99/lbs) is a classic semi-soft cheese hailing from the Swiss Alps. It has an earthy, nutty flavor balanced by a texture that’s still relatively milky. It’s also the center piece of the dish known as “Le Raclette”. This dish, a family favorite in France and Switzerland on chilly nights as it’s both delicious and simply prepared, is real Alpine comfort food. The cheese is served baked and melted, with charcuterie (cured meats), boiled potatoes, cornichons (baby sour gherkin pickles) and fresh bread. We’ve got all of that, except the potatoes, but fortunately those are easy to come by. Enjoy this dish family style with lots of friends. An Alsatian Pinot Gris, dry Riesling, or medium bodied, earthy Cotes du Rhone are perfect counterparts. Belgian Trappist beers also go great.

Landaff ($19.99/lbs) hails from the small town of the same name in New Hampshire. It’s a hard cheese with a washed rind, sharp and a bit salty, but also very rich. It’s a distant cousin to the Scottish cheese called Caerphilly, made by hand using milk from Landaff Creamery’s own cows. It melts beautifully, and it’s great on what I call an Autumn pizza, with mashed butternut squash instead of tomato sauce, fresh sage and red onion. Try it also on it’s own as a satisfying nosh, paired with a big red wine, luscious white Burgundy, or even, dare I say it, a smoky single malt Scotch.

Cabrales ($23.99/lbs) is an intense and majestic blue cheese from Spain. This giant of a cheese is full of musty, earthy “blue” flavor. With some walnuts and a glass of your favorite Port or sweet oloroso Sherry, it’s downright hedonistic. And really, what is a cold night good for if not to enjoy the big sweet dessert wines that we’ve been missing all Summer.

And don’t forget about chocolate. We now carry a wide array of fine chocolates from local Somerville heroes Taza, as well as many selections from around the world. Who said sweets were just for the kids?

All that is just a tiny teaser of what you’ll find on hand at Ball Square Fine Wines – and yes, we can put a whole bunch of these goodies together in one of our custom made, Gourmet Gift Baskets, just ask! So ignore the diet for once, and come down for some yummy treats. There’s always something delicious on the menu - just don’t tell your doctor.

On To The Next One ~ What’s Coming Up @ SLF

Nov 10 12:09 pm

by Joe Grafton

When our blog team got together last Saturday, we decided it might be a good idea to have me write a post about what’s coming up at Somerville Local First.  As usual, that’s anything but a short answer.

Before I get there, however, I thought I’d share this, the SLF Logic Model.

SLF Logic Model - Thanks to Ariel Harms

SLF Logic Model - Thanks to Ariel Harms

So, this looks really complicated, I know.  But that’s because our work is complicated.  I am posting this simply to show you that, while its always very much about the ‘next thing‘ at SLF, our efforts and programs are bound together strategically.

And so what exactly are we up to next?  Well…..

SHIFT YOUR SHOPPING (November/December)

This holiday season is crucial for local businesses.  And I think its safe to say that this year is the most critical I’ve seen in my time doing this work.  Working with and speaking to business owners on a daily basis, it seems like our local economy has slowed in the past few months.  Many businesses have confided in me that they are concerned if they can’t make it work this holiday season, they won’t be able to survive.

So with this in mind, SLF will launch our 2nd annual holiday shopping campaign, Shift Your Shopping.

You'll see a refreshed series of posters/postcards designed by Oat again this year.

You'll see a refreshed series of posters/postcards designed by Oat again this year.

Shift Your Shopping will feature:

-A robust online content plan that will offer a TON of info on where you can do your holiday shopping.  We’ll incorporate photos, maybe video, shopping lists, event promotions and more.

-The launch of our Mobile Deals application for iPhone and Android users.  By accessing our site, you’ll be able to see real-time offers from our members to save you money as you make the Shift.

-A collaboration with other Somerville organizations to create/promote - ShiftYourShopAPalooza on 12/4 & 5.

-The introduction of “Plaid Friday”, a viral, social media campaign designed to help communities understand the importance, and advantages, to remaining far away from the consumerist driven “Black Friday” concept.

-A campaign themed scavenger hunt!

-Some surprises  !!

Where The Locals Go Coupon Book  (January)

Last year, the City of Somerville was gracious and crucial in helping build SLF capacity by sponsoring our innagural Coupon Book.  As with everything we’ve done, the first year of the project helped us learn and year two is primed for improvement.

We learned some things in our first year...

We learned some things in our first year...

So we are pleased to announce that in January, 2011. Somerville Local First will be collaborating with our sister organization, Cambridge Local First to produce the Where The Local Go coupon book.

Sneak Preview - Here's what the cover of this years book will look like though we're still revising/improving

Sneak Preview - Here's what the cover of this years book will look like though we're still revising/improving

The book will be for sale this year, and will be a key fundraising tool for SLF & CLF.  For only $10, you will get a book filled with approx 100 coupons, valued at approximately $1,000.  Best yet, this project helps demonstrate to both of our communities that buying local is important, wherever you are, and that local economies don’t stop at the border of each city.

I’ll close with a phrase common amongst our organizer friends….Next Thing!

Love Blogging? Love the Holidays? Love Local Businesses? Write for Somerville Local First!

Nov 08 11:21 am

Write for the Shift Your Shopping Holiday Campaign

I’m Sam, the new editor for the Somerville Local First blog. Since the holidays are just around the corner, SLF needs your help getting our community into the “local” spirit this season. We’re looking to add some additional bloggers to our roster to write for our upcoming Shift Your Shopping Holiday campaign.

Are you planning to hit up local stores for holiday gifts? Do you know the scoop on some upcoming festivities around town? Have an epic eggnog recipe with local ingredient recommendations? We’d love for you to contribute! This is your chance to have your writing featured in one of Somerville’s most read online publications. You’ll also be helping promote the local businesses and events that make our city one of the best places to live in Massachusetts.

If you’re interested in writing for the SLF blog, please send me a note introducing yourself along with a sample of writing to slfblogwriters[at]

Feel free to shoot me any questions you have about becoming a writer as well. Thanks, and look forward to hearing from you!

Taza & SLF Join Forces to Support Another SLF Member

Oct 28 2:47 pm

A few days ago, we published a request for community support from James Welborn, owner of Hub Comics in Union Square.  We’re now taking things another step forward with a collaboration from your favorite local chocolate maker, Taza Chocolate.

Taza, if you don’t know, recently opened a retail store and started giving factory tours.  That’s right, you can tour the chocolate factory, right here in the ‘ville!

Win this great tour & gift certificate prize from Taza Chocolate by supporting a member in need

Win this great tour & gift certificate prize from Taza Chocolate by supporting a member in need

And so,  over the next week, Taza & SLF are partnering to give you an opportunity for a FREE chocolate factory tour PLUS a $25 gift certificate for Taza products in their retail store.

All you have to do to enter is do some shopping at Hub Comics.

For every $10 you spend at Hub up to $50, you will receive 1 entry in the contest.  Just mention the contest to the folks at Hub while making your purchase and we’ll record your email address.  Next Monday, 11/8, we’ll announce the winner.

SLF is also throwing in some prizes.  A $20 gift certificate to Sherman Market, a choice of SLF T-Shirts in our inventory, a limited edition letterpress Harvest Fest poster from Union Press, a SLF Water Bottle and (when we publish them in January) a complimentary SLF Coupon Book.  That brings the value of the prize pack to almost $100!  And all you have to do is support a local business who could use our help.

The  only question after that is…are you a Charlie or a Veruca?

Local Loves Local once again and Community is the winner.

Filed under: Local First, Our Members — SLF @ 2:47 pm

Dig these Somerville Businesses in the Weekly Dig’s Annual Dig This Awards

Oct 26 1:06 pm

Every year, our friends at the Weekly Dig (check their new website btw, awesome!) hold the Dig This awards. The edit stafforial picks four businesses (almost all of them locally owned) and asks the public to vote for their favorites.

Voting ends 11/5.  Let's stuff the virtual ballot box for our faves from the 'ville

Voting ends 11/5. Let's stuff the virtual ballot box for our faves from the 'ville

There are a TON of SLF members and other Somerville businesses nominated this year.  And we’d like your help in trying to sweep the awards for these great businesses.  Winning brings more recognition, great marketing and most importantly - new customers!

Below you’ll find the Somerville Business who you can vote for.  We’ve identified members of the network with italics.

Best Places to Eat



Beer Store

Ball Sq. Wine & Spirits


Sound Bites


The Independent


Sherman Cafe

Casual Sushi

Snappy Sushi

Coffee Shop

Bloc 11

True Grounds

Gourmet Shop

Dave’s Fresh Pasta

Ice Cream / Gelato

J.P. Licks



Liquor Store

Downtown Wine & Spirits

Mexican/Central/South American

Machu Picchu

Tu y Yo

Newcomer Restaurant

Foundry on Elm


Kickass Cupcakes


Petsi Pies

Slow Burger

RF O’Sullivan’s

Boston Burger Company






Eat at Jumbos

Bar Menu

PJ Ryan’s

Dive Bar


Small Music Venue

Johnny D’s


diesel cafe

Sports Bar (International)

PJ Ryan’s

Sunday Night

Sea Monsters at Precinct Lounge

Tuesday Night

Drunken Spelling Bee at Highland Kitchen

Neighborhood Spot - Davis Sq.




Johnny D’s

Neighborhood Spot - Teele Sq / Ball Sq / Powderhouse (89 Bus)

Powderhouse Pub

PJ Ryan’s

Olde Magoun’s


Neighborhood Spot - Inman Sq.

Trina’s Starlight Lounge

Neighborhood Spot - Union Sq.

Sally O’Brien’s

The Independent

Bull McCabe’s

PA’s Lounge

Best Places to Shop




Sunshine Lucy’s





Training Room

Vintage Clothing

Poor Little Rich Girl



Bow St

Filed under: Our Members — SLF @ 1:06 pm

Silent Auction to benefit Pets In Need, A No-Kill Animal Shelter

Oct 25 11:50 am
Pets In Need to hold Silent Auction featuring many SLF Members on Friday 11/12

Pets In Need to hold Silent Auction featuring many SLF Members on Friday 11/12

Pets In Need non-profit animal adoption program is hosting a silent auction on Friday, November 12th from 7:00 – 9:00 p.m. at Dilboy VFW Hall, Davis Square (371 Summer St., Somerville) and all proceeds from the auction will go towards the care of the homeless animals.

“We have some great items up for auction this year,” said auction organizer Sarah Rhines. “As an all-volunteer organization, we try to keep our operating costs low, but vet bills can be very expensive. We hope people will want to come out to support our cause, get some great gifts and have an awesome time!”

Items up for auction include valuable Boston sports collectibles, passes to local museums, gift certificates to area restaurants and much more – there is something for everyone in the family!

Help Pets in Need by attending their free Silent Auction and bidding on items from Local Businesses, many from Somerville

There is no admission fee, and all ages are welcome. Refreshments will be donated by a number of local eateries. The Nahanton Avenue Band will be playing your favorite hits from the 80s, and there will also be a cash bar.

Pets In Need is a small no-kill adoption program run privately by volunteers who have joined together to save the unwanted and abandoned animals who have come across their path. All donations and adoption fees go directly to the animals.
Filed under: Local First — SLF @ 11:50 am
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