Posts Tagged ‘Institute for Local Self Reliance’

By Olivia LaVecchia, Institute for Local Self-Reliance

One of a place’s greatest assets is its unique character, and another is its skilled residents. Luckily for cities, these strengths can reinforce each other. A recent study, published in the journal Sociological Spectrum, finds that the presence of locally owned retailers is one factor that leads residents to stay put. The authors of the study find that states with a greater share of locally owned retail experience a less-steep slope of people, especially college graduates, migrating out from their counties.

Read: New Studies Reveal 5 Reasons Policymakers Should Prioritize Local Business in 2016


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Monadnock Complete Economy Project

Stacy Mitchell from Institute for Local Self-Reliance delivered the presentation above on June 14, 2013, at the Business Alliance for Local Living Economies Conference in Buffalo, New York.

View the text on ILSR’s website


Download a PDF version of the text.

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I consider us lucky – Monadnock Buy Local, that is – that key players in the local economy movement continually ask, “Is our work making a difference?” and “Why is our work important?”

Tackling the former question first, there is strong evidence that our work is, in fact, strengthening locally owned businesses.

That evidence comes from the eighth annual Independent Business Survey led by the Institute for Local Self Reliance and the Advocates for Independent Business.  This year’s survey garnered responses from 3,057 businesses across North America, all independent and locally owned. We’re proud that thirty-nine of these responses came from Monadnock Region businesses.

What positive impacts did this survey highlight?

More people are embracing the Buy Local Message: Independent businesses reported revenue growth of 8.1% on average in 2014 (compared to 5.1% across the entire retail industry).  Monadnock Region independent businesses reported an average of 10.3% growth.

Buy Local Alliances drive more people to Buy Local: Sixty-nine percent of businesses located in cities with active Independent Business Alliances / Local First campaigns reported increased customer traffic and other benefits from these initiatives.  They reported sales growth of 9.3% on average in 2014, compared to 4.9% for businesses in places without such an initiative.

independents-comparative-sales-increase-100billShift Your Shopping and Plaid Friday influenced holiday shoppers: The retailers surveyed experienced a 4.8% average increase in holiday sales, beating many competing chains (holiday sales for all retail businesses actually fell 0.9% this year). Retailers in the Monadnock Region experienced a 10.8% increase in holiday sales.

“The efforts of Monadnock Buy Local to promote the benefits of shopping at locally owned businesses are certainly evident in our stores,” stated Willard Williams, co-owner of The Toadstool Bookshops.  “Many, many people told us they were doing all their holiday shopping locally.  Plaid Friday, Shift Your Shopping — I’m confident all this contributed to the 11% increase in December sales at our bookstore in Keene.”

Read the full 2015 Independent Business Report on our website.

Now on to the second question: Why is our work important?

Once again, we can turn to the Institute for Local Self-Reliance for an answer and use their Top 10 Reasons to Support Locally Owned Businesses list (reprinted with permission):

Local Character and Prosperity: In an increasingly homogenized world, communities that preserve their one-of-a-kind businesses and distinctive character have an economic advantage.

Community Well-Being: Locally owned businesses build strong communities by sustaining vibrant town centers, linking neighbors in a web of economic and social relationships, and contributing to local causes.

Local Decision-Making:  Local ownership ensures that important decisions are made locally by people who live in the community and who will feel the impacts of those decisions.

Keeping Dollars in the Local Economy: Compared to chain stores, locally owned businesses recycle a much larger share of their revenue back into the local economy, enriching the whole community.

Job and Wages:  Locally owned businesses create more jobs locally and, in some sectors, provide better wages and benefits than chains do.

Entrepreneurship: Entrepreneurship fuels America’s economic innovation and prosperity, and serves as a key means for families to move out of low-wage jobs and into the middle class.

Public Benefits and Costs:  Local stores in town centers require comparatively little infrastructure and make more efficient use of public services relative to big box stores and strip shopping malls.

Environmental Sustainability: Local stores help to sustain vibrant, compact, walkable town centers-which in turn are essential to reducing sprawl, automobile use, habitat loss, and air and water pollution.

Competition: A marketplace of tens of thousands of small businesses is the best way to ensure innovation and low prices over the long term.

Product Diversity:  A number of small businesses, each selecting products based not on a national sales plan but on their own interests and the needs of their local customers, guarantee a much broader range of product choices.

Learn more from the Institute for Local Self-Reliance.

Our work is important and it is making a difference! We are retailers, wellness providers, architects, bankers, chefs, farmers, grocers, artists and more – and we invite you to join with us to make even more of a difference.  Individuals can support our work as Citizen Members.  Learn more about membership today.

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A new survey of independent business owners across the U.S. and Canada yielded powerful evidence that pro-local attitudes are growing and driving customer traffic.  The results also indicate that the educational work of Monadnock Buy Local and similarly organized groups are yielding large benefits for their members and local economy.

The annual survey by the Institute for Local Self Reliance (ILSR) and Advocates for Independent Business tallied responses from more than 3,000 independent businesses. Just under half were retailers, while restaurants, service providers and others comprised smaller portions.

independents-comparative-sales-increase-100billAmong the notable results:

  • Independent businesses in communities with an active “buy independent/buy local” campaign run by grassroots groups saw revenues grow 9.3% in 2014, nearly double the 4.9% increase for businesses in areas without such an alliance.
  • Overall, independent businesses reported revenue growth of 8.1% on average in 2014.  Monadnock Region independent businesses reported revenue growth of 10.3% on average in 2014.
  • The retailers surveyed experienced a 5.1% increase in same-store sales and 4.8% increase in holiday sales, beating the growth of many competing chains. Retailers in the Monadnock Region experienced a 10.8% increase in holiday sales.
  • Wages paid by respondents equaled or exceeded their chain competitors.  41% of independents’ employees make between $10 and $15 hourly, while 34% make $15 or more hourly.
  • 69% of businesses located in cities with an active Independent Business Alliance / Local First organization reported increased customer traffic or other benefits from these initiatives.

“The efforts of Monadnock Buy Local to promote the benefits of shopping at locally owned businesses was certainly evident in our stores,” stated Willard Williams, co-owner of The Toadstool Bookshops.  “Many, many people told us they were doing all their holiday shopping locally.  Plaid Friday, Shift Your Shopping — I’m confident all this contributed to the 11% increase in December sales at our bookstore in Keene.”

“The work of dedicated community coalitions continues to shift local consciousness and is driving more business to local entrepreneurs,” said Jeff Milchen, co-director of the American Independent Business Alliance (AMIBA), which partnered in the survey. Monadnock Buy Local is a member of AMIBA, a national network of more than 85 community alliances supporting local entrepreneurs.

The survey also assessed major concerns of independent business owners, indicating:

  • Among retailers, 71% said competition from large internet companies was the biggest challenge facing their business, followed by supplier pricing that favors their big competitors, chain competition and other issues.
  • Top policy priorities among respondents are extending the requirement to collect sales tax to large online retailers and enforcing antitrust laws against large, dominant companies.
  • For independent businesses, which applied for bank loans within the past two years, 30% were denied and another 14% received less money than requested. Businesses owned by people of color, women and immigrants were far less likely to get loans.

“More people are seeking out independent businesses, which we know from academic research is great news for job creation, income growth and the well-being of communities,” said Stacy Mitchell, senior researcher at ILSR. “Now we need policymakers to step up and create a level playing field to allow locally owned businesses to really thrive.”

With more than 150 members, Monadnock Buy Local plans to expand its work this year by encouraging businesses, organizations and municipalities to adopt innovations that forward a local, green and fair economy.

Download the 2015 Independent Business Report (PDF).

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From the Institute of Social Self-Reliance

Independent businesses saw strong sales growth in 2014 as more consumers embraced the “buy local” movement and ditched big companies in favor of supporting local retailers and small-scale producers, according to a large national survey released today.


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Originally posted in the Monadnock Shopper News

A few weeks ago, after making a purchase at an independent business in Keene, I noticed something different about the change I received. A one-dollar bill was marked “Build Our Community – Spend Me Locally!” Excellent advice, President Washington!

Imagine more and more of us seeing this message over and over again as we make our daily purchases.  A simple reminder that who you hand this bill off to next determines how long it recirculates in our community — building jobs, increasing charitable giving and bettering our quality of life.

I first learned about this money-stamping project at the American Independent Business Alliance’s (AMIBA) Conference this past May in Minneapolis, a national gathering of organizations like Monadnock Buy Local.  AMIBA shares on their website, “Almost every day, most of us exchange pieces of paper with other people to buy or sell products or services. So what better place to insert messages about the importance of doing business locally at a cost of nearly zero per impression?”

After the conference, our own Board of Directors discussed starting this project in the Monadnock Region — but the project is already here! Now it’s our job to amplify this project’s reach.  We’re planning events during this year’s Shift Your Shopping season and Plaid Friday event to build awareness and increase the number of stamped bills circulating through our region.  Have an idea? Share it with monadnockbuylocal@gmail.com.

Now you may be thinking, is this legal? Money stamping is legal.  What is illegal is to intentionally destroy a bill, but that’s definitely not the intention of this project.  We want our stamped bills to stay in circulation, so we’ll keep the stamp from covering the serial numbers and seals on the front of these bills.

You don’t have to wait for Monadnock Buy Local to start stamping your bills — you can order your stamp directly from AMIBA.  MBL Members can request a free stamp from AMIBA.

This money-stamping project can also be a tool to remind more of us to choose cash over credit cards when making purchases at locally owned businesses.  When you use your credit card, local merchants pay fees to banks usually in far away places.   Using cash means independent businesses make more from each transaction, at no extra cost to you.

“For independent businesses, credit card fees can rival or even exceed their profits,” said Stacy Mitchell, senior researcher with the Institute for Local Self-Reliance. “Kathy Miller, fifth-generation owner of a general store in Elmore, Vermont, testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee that, on a $10 gasoline sale, she makes 49 cents in profit and pays 47 cents in credit card fees.”

Stamped or not, how long does a bill recirculate in our local economy?  That’s a question Monadnock Buy Local is working on answering right now through our Indie Impact Study with Civic Economics, an organization that conducts studies measuring the “local multiplier effect” in communities.  These studies found that independents return between 44 to 71 cents of every dollar in revenues back to their local economy.  Our study will provide baseline data on how money recirculates through our local economy when spent at independent businesses compared to national chains.  Also, this data will help guide future policy work in our region and measure the success of our efforts.  Learn more about Indie Impact Studies.

“Other studies across the country, from Austin to San Francisco to Chicago have been very helpful to all of us in our efforts to further the local movement,” said Betsy Burton, co-chair of Local First Utah. “But having the actual figures from our home city is compelling to the public and to local government officials in a whole different way.”

So look down when you receive your change.  Look to see if a reminder to buy local is there.  Even if you’re handed bills without a stamp, just by looking you’ll be thinking local first and reminding yourself to spend more of your dollars at independent businesses.

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shift-your-shopping-2011-logoOriginally published in the Monadnock Shopper News

On November 1st, Monadnock Buy Local launches its 2013 Shift Your Shopping Holiday Campaign, including our signature Plaid Friday Event – an antidote to Black Friday’s consumer buying frenzy.  We invite you to learn more, join the fun and spread the word!

Our goal is to encourage more of us to choose local & independent businesses for more of our holiday purchases.  Making the shift to local independents is one of the fastest ways to build a stronger local economy and create more jobs in our region.

How can you show your support for our Shift Your Shopping Campaign?

Plaid-Friday-2013-21.    Participate in our Plaid Friday Event

In our region, over 300 individuals participated in last year’s Plaid Friday Event, wearing plaid to show their support for our local economy and commitment to buying local this holiday season.  The day to wear plaid this year is Friday, November 29th.

Wearing plaid, a fabric with unique colors woven together into a larger pattern, represents the many diverse independent businesses and organizations that together form the tapestry of a strong local economy.  It doesn’t matter what plaid you plan to wear — shirts, scarves, hats, socks, pants or, my favorite, all of them — get them ready for wearing on Plaid Friday.  (Have extras? Share them with friends and ask them to participate too.)

Over one dozen independent businesses will serve as Plaid Friday Hubs, taking photographs of people decked out in plaid for our Plaid Friday Collage.  Last year, we raffled off over $1,000 worth of items — donated by locally owned businesses — to thank Monadnock Buy Local fans, and we plan to do the same this year.  If you use Facebook, please RSVP to our Plaid Friday 2013 Event Page and share it with your connections.

Do you have an overly worn Plaid shirt or fabric that you’re willing to donate?  Monadnock Buy Local is collecting Plaid fabric to make into flags (for our Plaid Friday Hubs) and bags.  Please bring your fabric donations to the Monadnock Food Co-op at34 Cypress Street in Keene.  There’s a collection basket just past the registers.  And thank you!

2.   Support “Shift Your Shopping for Good” Days

New to Shift Your Shopping this year, independent businesses across the nation can participate in “Shift Your Shopping for Good” Days from November 30 – December 3, 2013. Actor Kevin Bacon recently pledged to help spread the word about this part of the campaign.  A number of locally owned businesses nationwide will donate a portion of purchases to a nonprofit when a customer mentions the phrase “Shift Your Shopping.” Details are still coming, so be sure to visit our website or Facebook Page for the latest details. If you’re an independent business owner, find out how you can participate in “Shift Your Shopping for Good” Days at www.shiftyourshopping.org/2013/charity.

3. Take the Shift Your Shopping Pledge

Lastly, but definitely not least, make your commitment to shift at least 10% of your holiday purchases from non-local businesses to locally owned businesses known — take the Shift Your Shopping Pledge.

Share your pledge on Facebook, Twitter or on whatever social media platforms you like to use.  Spread the word!

The Shift Your Shopping campaign, now in its third year, is a collaboration including Monadnock Buy Local, The American Independent Business Alliance, the Business Alliance for Local Living Economies, The Institute for Local Self-Reliance and 150 Local Business organizations representing over 40,000 local independent businesses across North America.  Learn more about the Shift Your Shopping Campaign at ShiftYourShopping.org.  We hope to see you in Plaid!


A Place at the Table Update: In our August article, we highlighted the film “A Place at the Table” and its goal to inspire collective community action to address hunger, obesity and food policy — on both the local and national level.  If you missed the September event, or want to view this important film again (please bring friends!), come to the next community showing –sponsored by Monadnock Farm & Community Coalition — on Sunday, November 17, 1 p.m. at the Colonial Theatre in Keene.

The event includes State Senator Molly Kelly, who will moderate the event, a panel featuring local stories of making food more accessible and affordable and post-event round table discussions hosted by local groups working to address the issues of hunger in our area and strengthen our local food system and fresh, local snacks.  This event is free, but there is a suggested donation of canned food or fresh produce that will go to local food pantries.  Learn more and register at www.mfccoalition.org.

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