Cambridge and Somerville Local First - 2011 Coupon Book - Shift Your Shopping to Local First

Word on the Street - Local Shopping Sinking In

Dec 22 10:33 am

by Clay Adamczyk

With only a few short days left before the holiday’s, it’s easy to get stressed out trying to find those last minute gifts for friends and love ones, and it’s just as easy to overlook quality amidst a mild panic. Relax and take a deep breath. As many locals have shown, finding a unique and thoughtful gift is as simple as taking a walk through your friendly neighborhood.

Plaid Friday trending on Twitter

Plaid Friday trending on Twitter was just the beginning

Earlier this week, I took to Davis Sq., to ask shoppers why they’re going local this holiday season.

Alison Gordon is a Weymouth resident, but for on-and-off for the past five years has worked at the one-of-a-kind Magpie, of which she now manages. Gordon has also completed most of her holiday shopping at local craft fairs this year. “I know that handmade items are better and you know the work that goes into it so your fine with paying more and you know that you are directly supporting someone by buying it from a local artists.” Said Gordon. “It’s nice knowing that you’re buying here, and helping someone who is here instead of of another store buying something made by whoever.”

Barbrad Rhodes of Jamaica Plain was also happy to share that she does most of her holiday shopping locally and at crafts fairs as she exited Davis Squared. “I find I get things that are so different and wonderful when I shop at those places.” Rhodes said. She was also happy to show off her new Queen Bee handbag from Magpie: a nice gift to herself this season. Aside from assured quality in handmade products, there is also a sense of assured quality in business practices. “I also feel like this is a little bit of a jab at corporate America.” Rhodes said. “I’m not buying from places I feel are probably harming the nation rather then helping the nation.”

Individuals have been giving gifts to our community and their loved ones this year.

Similar sentiments were expressed by a local Somerville artist and resident of 20+ years, Yani Batteau. “[Buying local] keeps the city economically afloat and–hopefully–makes people want to stay here. Batteau said.

Why change what Michael Kanter already put best? Sticking local is a “community-community’ win. So with time to find those last minute gifts rapidly running out, there’s no need to look further than out community.  A great way to enjoy the holiday season, and spirit.

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.

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!

Get Your Shift Together for the Holidays

Jul 18 4:39 pm

by Rachel Oldfield

“Losing sight of what’s important” during the holiday season is an oft-heard phrase. From having the wildest July 4th party to presenting the most elaborate Thanksgiving dinner possible to making sure the in-laws are impressed by your Christmas cheer, holidays and gift-giving can be warped from the warm, meaningful experiences they are supposed to be (examples here and here - Editors Note the 2nd link is to Amazon, but you can ask Harvard Bookstore to order if for you instead). The fact that most magazines feature cover stories with the words “holidays” and “stress” in the same headline around the months of November and December is a testament to the reality of this time of the year.

Yet usually when one refers to divergence from the true holiday spirit, it is in reference to a heavy focus on materialism instead of spending time with one’s family or appreciating what one already has. There is, however, more than one meaning of this idea. In some form or another, the holidays we celebrate all come down to the honoring of values – American or family, Christian or not. When we give gifts to our loved ones, we think of the joy it is bringing them. But do we think about the values are gift-buying is promoting, and the external impacts of these purchases?

The truth is, our gift giving and holiday preparation can celebrate these values, bringing joy and making a tremendous difference not just to the people for whom they’re intended. Where you shop also makes a difference for your entire community. Studies have shown that when you spend locally, because of the multiplier effect, more of that money will stay in the local community than when you purchase from non-local businesses. More of this money circulated regionally instead of nationally creates more vibrant local communities – more jobs, more money in economic activity, new entrepreneurial ventures – that can be woven together to form an economically stable nation.

The holiday season is extremely important for retailers every year, as revenue from that period could represent up to 40 percent of a retailer’s annual sales. Each fall the media floods the news with stories of predicted sales booms and busts, covering the one-month period between Thanksgiving and Christmas like it were the Super Bowl. And while chains and conglomerates have some wiggle room for “bust” holiday years, Local Independents (those are businesses that are privately held and locally operated) rely heavily on your patronage to stay in business and keep your community strong and dynamic.

If you already practice local spending or have not yet tried to make the shift, doing more of your shopping at Local Independents during the holiday season can be an easy and concrete way to contribute to your community’s economic wellbeing. And it doesn’t have to be hard – why not give your aunt a massage from a local spa, your dad a gift certificate to the nearby barbecue restaurant, or your niece a handmade bracelet from a local crafts store? I would rather get a gift certificate to Redbones than a pair of new socks any day. Plus, aren’t those unique gifts always the more memorable ones?

As Americans all across the country join together in a spirit of cooperation and rebuilding, it seems that many are starting to recognize the importance of local shopping. Not only did cities where active Local First campaigns exist report a less severe drop in sales in 2007 than those without (3.2 percent compared to 5.6), but 95 percent of retailers surveyed said the fact that their business is locally owned matters to their customers (up from 82 percent in the survey the year before). Clearly more and more people are beginning to recognize the importance in choosing to shop locally. We invite you to become one of those people.

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