Buy-local campaigns are common, especially around the holidays, and on the increase. Often organized by chambers of commerce, the idea is to convince consumers to spend their money in their hometowns versus leaving town to shop at big-box retailers. According to an Institute for Local Self-Reliance survey, independent businesses in cities with an active buy-local campaign fared better than those in cities without a push for localism.
The survey gathered data from 2,768 independent service providers, restaurants and retailers, finding that those in places with a buy-local initiative reported revenue growth of 5.6 percent on average in 2010, compared to 2.1 percent for those without. Among independent retailers there was a similar gap in holiday sales performance, with those in buy-local communities seeing a 5.2 percent increase in holiday sales, while those elsewhere reported an average gain of 0.8 percent. Buy-local campaigns also benefit local grocers.
Research at the Center for Rural Affairs (http://www.cfra.org/renewrural/grocery) demonstrates that helping rural communities retain their local grocery is crucial. Grocery stores provide vital sources of nutrition, jobs, tax revenue and other intangibles that support the community. They are, however, slowly disappearing. At least 803 counties in the U.S. are classified as food deserts, where half the population of the county lives 10 or more miles from a full-service grocery, forcing residents to leave their communities to purchase food.
The T-shirts and bumper stickers that tell us to Think Globally, Act Locally offer sound advice, especially in rural America.