In January, the American Express Open Retail Economic Pulse, a survey of small-business owners with retail storefront locations, found that 51 percent of these business owners believe there is a growing "buy local" movement in the country. Here's how to get the buy local mojo going in your community:
1. Get buy-in from other local businesses. Gregory Cohen, founder and owner of Lofty Pursuits, a toy and ice cream shop in Tallahassee, Fla., is a founding member of Locally Owned Tallahassee, a group that helps local businesses promote themselves and encourages consumers to shop at independent merchants in the area. The group hosts events, assists with promotional activities and provides general morale and support to more than 100 time-strapped merchants.
2. Don't reinvent the wheel. Retail consultant Cinda Baxter, who says $68 out of every $100 spent in local businesses stays in the community, recommends making use of the resources that are already out there. Baxter is the founder of The 3/50 Project, which promotes the concept of supporting local economies by spending $50 each month at three local businesses.
3. Be inclusive. "You have to work toward the needs of as many businesses as possible," Cohen says. Some service businesses may not see the benefit of participating in a buy local campaign that is mostly focused on retail, but many may need the services of, for example, a graphic design firm or commercial landscaping business, so be sure to develop programs and promotions for every area of local business.