Convincing Customers to Buy Local

Illustration by Ray Vella

Convincing Customers to Buy Local

Buy-local campaigns have sprouted in scores of communities over the last decade. Typically organized by nonprofit networks of entrepreneurs, the idea is to convince consumers to spend their money at independent businesses in their own communities. The number of these campaigns has roughly doubled since 2005, and an estimated 25,000 businesses now participate in some local business alliance, says Stacy Mitchell, author of Big-Box Swindle and a senior researcher at the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, a Minneapolis-based nonprofit. Many of these alliances begin as marketing efforts to promote local shopping but expand to play roles in influencing government policy or promoting sustainable business practices. Here's a look at some of the most established and active buy-local groups and what they've achieved.