Fairfield Mayor Ed Malloy has officially proclaimed November 28 through December 7, 2008, as “Fairfield First Buy Local Week,” in recognition of the important role local businesses play in Fairfield. A part of the Fairfield First! campaign, Buy Local Week promotes patronizing local businesses during the biggest retail-shopping week of the year.
According to Burt Chojnowski, one of the founders of Fairfield First!, “The statistics support our efforts. Every dollar spent at a locally owned business recirculates in our community six times more than with non-local companies. Not only do local businesses provide more for us in terms of unique experiences and personal relationships, but strong local businesses create a healthier, more stable local economy.”
The Fairfield First! campaign makes it easier to locate and support businesses that are more responsible, more independent, and more sustainable.
The Local First movement, steadily gaining popularity in communities across North America, may turn out to be the guardian angel of independent retailers this holiday season.
In a year when holiday shopping at local independent retailers is taking on more economic importance than ever before, communities around North America will be celebrating their local stores with events, contests, and poster campaigns.
Last year, when the U.S. economy was just beginning to wobble, independent retailers in cities with active Local First campaigns reported much larger increases in holiday sales on average than those in cities without such campaigns. In all 50 states, many local store owners held their own and even saw sales gains as a result of joining with other independent business owners in their region to emphasize their local ownership and commitment to community.
The Business Alliance for Local Living Economies, or BALLE, with local business networks in 65 communities in the US and Canada, including Fairfield First!, trains and supports its networks in conducting Local First campaigns. It also advances a new approach to sustainable community economic development based on local ownership of community assets such as sustainable agriculture, renewable energy, green building, zero-waste manufacturing, community capital, and independent retail, building what it calls "living economies."
"Local, independent businesses and banks of Main Street are the economic drivers that have carried our communities for generations," says Doug Hammond, executive director of BALLE. "They create the real wealth that sustains the places we call home."
Another recent study drives home the potential impact of shopping at locally owned stores, whatever the season: Fairfield First! estimates a slight shift in Fairfield consumer purchasing behavior—diverting just 10% of purchases from national chain stores to locally owned businesses—would, each year, create a dozen or more new jobs and yield nearly $2 million in incremental economic activity.
"There is now overwhelming evidence that local businesses are the key to pumping up local income, wealth, jobs, and taxes,” says Michael Shuman, economist and author of The Small-Mart Revolution who works closely with BALLE. "The more residents, businesses, and city officials support locally owned businesses, the greater the economic rewards."
About BALLE: The Business Alliance for Local Living Economies, or BALLE, is the world’s fastest growing network of sustainable businesses committed to building local economies and transforming the community economic development field. For more information, visit www.livingeconomies.org.