How to Cover the “Buy Local” Movement

by June 29, 2016

“Buy local” campaigns have been gaining traction for the last decade. But that doesn’t mean you can’t find fresh and interesting angles to cover them. This blog covers a few new ways to cover the shop local movement in your city.

First, locate your community’s “buy local” organization

The American Independent Business Alliance helps local businesses form independent business associations in their communities and provides resources to organizations that help independent businesses grow.

Use the map of AMIBA local business alliances to find your local community group or look into non-affiliated community groups by state.

The site also offers free graphics and charts reporters can use to visually illustrate facts about shopping local in stories.

Pay attention to small business holidays

The good news for local business owners is that the “shop local” movement isn’t restricted to just one day, though many small businesses utilize movements like Independents Week, #DineSmall and others to promote economic growth.

See which holidays and festivals businesses in your area are celebrating to promote shopping local.

Peek into how businesses in your area are getting the word out to consumers, or look into how multiple small businesses are collaborating on deals.

Shopping local isn’t all or nothing

Another movement worth exploring is 10 Percent Shift, which encourages customers to allocate just 10 percent of their spending to locally manufactured goods and products.

The North Carolina 10 Percent campaign, for example, helps consumers see how their spending makes a difference statewide. It also has an interactive map where participants can see which restaurant businesses are doing their part too by sourcing at least 10 percent of their ingredients from locally grown and produced foods.

Explore employee benefits

We often hear about the countless benefits of buying local, but rarely do we hear about the impact these choices have on the employees who work at locally owned businesses.

If a small business has fewer than 50 full-time (FTE) equivalent employees, the business owner is not required to provide health insurance for their employees. According to the U.S Census Bureau’s 2013 County Business Patterns (the most recent available), nearly 16.5 million businesses fit that criteria and are therefore exempt from providing mandatory coverage to their employees. This is compared to about six million small enterprises with 50 employees or more.

Just because a business isn’t required to provide employee health coverage doesn’t mean they don’t. Many local businesses will even go above that and provide specialty benefits to remain competitive in attracting talent.

Investigate what benefits your local small businesses provide to employees in your area, and see what incentives they offer to keep employees happy.

Chain stores can appear local

 Make sure the businesses you tout as local actually are. To do so, look into the ownership and investors in companies that appear local.

Several big-box chain retailers own shops with hometown branding that could confuse consumers. For example, in Washington State, the long-time local grocery store chain Haggen was started in Bellingham in the 1930s. But when the company expanded too quickly and filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2015, the national Albertsons Corporation purchased the remaining 29 stores, 15 of which still bear the Haggen name.

Before you write about a business, look into the business’ public filings with your city, state and county licensing agencies such as the corporation commission, state department of revenue or other bureaus. Filings will usually note the owners of the business.

Collingswood Farmers’ Market ’08” by Flickr user “kahala” CC BY-NC-ND 2.0