2014-11-27 / Front Page

Shop Local, Buy Local

By Lynne Tungett

It seems that as soon as Thanksgiving dinner has been cleared we begin the Christmas shopping routine, with much of the nation heading to the mall for a midnight special before the pie has even settled. It doesn’t have to be that way.

More and more communities are embracing the “Shop Local, Buy Local” philosophy, realizing that doing so keeps the money local too. This year’s Small Business Saturday, which falls on the Saturday after Thanksgiving, offers a day full of promise: The promise that you will have more fun shopping locally, the promise that you will see people you know, and the promise that you will make a strong statement and have a big impact on your community by keeping your dollars on the island.

Small Business Saturday was founded in 2010 by American Express to encourage people to shop at small businesses and the single day has grown into a powerful movement; more people are taking part than ever before.

Many island shops are offering Black Friday deals as well. Check with your local merchants – they are your neighbors, friends and fellow islanders and they deserve our support. So before you head across the bridge and join the masses at the malls, wander downtown or explore Middletown; you will be pleasantly surprised.

On Tuesday, Nov. 25, the Rhode Island Foundation and Newport business people met at Armory Antiques Marketplace to emphasize the multi-million-dollar importance of shopping locally.

They announced a statewide campaign to encourage Rhode Islanders to shop at locally-owned businesses. “Buy Local RI” offers businesses and consumers a central website at buylocalri.org where merchants can market their products and services and shoppers can find locally sold products

“Patronizing local shops and restaurants has the potential to pay off in a big way. We are talking about money that each one of us is already spending, so no additional investment is required. The return can be spectacular as the cash circulates through our economy,” said Neil Steinberg, the foundation’s president and CEO. “As these companies prosper, they will grow and put people back to work.”

Incredibly, shifting just 10 percent of the purchasing that Rhode Island shoppers do from chains to independent, locally-owned businesses has the potential to add $373 million to the state’s economy, according to a study commissioned by the foundation. The study estimates that 57 percent of spending with locally-owned retailers stays in the state’s economy, compared to just 13.6 percent of spending at major national chains.

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