Supporting the Buy Local Movement
In this age of social media, we are exposed to new ideas at a rapid pace. Depending on your social circle, you may be inundatedÂ with advice on healthy living from your online friends. Sleep more.Â Sleep less. Only eat organic foods. Organic doesn’t matter, butÂ do not dare eat non-GMO. Try this cleanse. Cleanses don’t work,Â just eat paleo. Make sure your kids are in the same school as theÂ other neighborhood kids. Make sure your kids go to MontessoriÂ school. If you really cared, you would homeschool your kids.Â *deep breath*
We all want to lead better lives and create better lives for ourÂ families, but all the advice can be overwhelming and the goodÂ ideas can get lost in the wash. What about the phrase, “BuyÂ Local?” You have probably seen it used online, seen signs at localÂ businesses during the holidays, or maybe even heard it during aÂ stroll through a farmers’ market. But what does it really mean andÂ how does it benefit our lives?
Buying local can improve and ultimately transform a community.Â The most successful and thriving communities in the US haveÂ something in common: They take charge in enriching, empowering and supporting their local businesses, artists, and entrepreneurs. Local small businesses accounted for 65 percent ofÂ all new jobs over the past 17 years and they employ 77 millionÂ Americans. If independent businesses regained their marketÂ shares circa 1990, it would create 200,000 new small businesses,Â generate nearly $300 billion in revenues and employ more thanÂ 1.6 million American workers. Can you imagine what it could doÂ for the place we call home? Studies say that residential neighborhoods served by a successful independent business district canÂ gain, on average, 50 percent more in home values than neighborhoods without one.
Living Local puts worth and value inÂ our cities and supports the placesÂ and things that make it different fromÂ anywhere else in the country.
But Buy Local is one aspect of the bigger idea of Living Local.Â Living Local means supporting community events, supportingÂ your local business owners, eating locally, and calling on localÂ services for a better environment as a whole. Living Local putsÂ worth and value in our cities and supports the places and thingsÂ that make it different from anywhere else in the country. ThisÂ means more tourism, more jobs, and more people moving toÂ our region. With amazing non-profits, businesses and independent groups in the Winnebago County region working together,Â Winnebago County is in great shape to create something on aÂ grassroots level that could change life as we know it. Here is howÂ you can help by Living Local.
Spend more time at community-based events
Farmers’ markets, community concerts, museums, and non-profitÂ events. Spend time, not just once in awhile, but as frequently asÂ life allows. Most community events cost little to attend and willÂ create invaluable memories for you and your family and friends. IfÂ you are willing, it will help you learn more about the non-profits and organizations that have CHOSEN to serve this community. Their passion for your community and quality of life willÂ be infectious.
Eating local is more than simply eating at locally owned restaurants. You can eat local at your restaurants, but also considerÂ drinking coffee at your local coffee shop, buying coffee for homeÂ from local roasters, and buying produce from local farmers andÂ meats from your local deli or butcher. The age of convenienceÂ is here, but if you take an extra step, you’ll find it is easier overÂ time, as well as healthier, for you and your family to consumeÂ fresh goods. We think about the future of our health constantly,Â and living local via food consumption makes a long-term (andÂ delicious!) difference.
Shop and Buy Local
Shopping local means not only buying a holiday gift from a localÂ store, but shopping for your next appliance or furniture piece,Â buying your hair products, vitamins, or your next date night outfit,Â locally. Your unique style will blossom, and you will find joy inÂ knowing even your small purchases benefit a local business thatÂ appreciates your support and generates more revenue for ourÂ local economy.
Utilize Local Services
Does your lawn, plumbing, or air conditioning need maintenance?Â Do you need new windows? Will you need photography or designÂ for an upcoming special event in your life? Are you looking intoÂ personal trainers or a health club? Utilizing your local services willÂ give you quality work from those services who chose to establishÂ their businesses in the city where you live.
If you need more help getting started living locally, try playing thisÂ game inside your head: Whenever you head out of the house, askÂ yourself, “Can I do what I am about to do, locally?” and proceed.Â The result will be a life full of community spirit, friendship, andÂ happiness as you surround yourself with unique, independent,Â and motivated individuals who are succeeding at improving theÂ Winnebago County area.
For resources on local events and local businesses in WinnebagoÂ County, check out www.WinnebagoBuyLocal.com,Â www.RockfordBuzz.com, and www.GoRockford.com.
Sources: Small Business Administration; Intuit Small Business Innovation Study; American Express OPEN Independent Retail Index; Civic Economics/American BooksellersÂ Assoc., U.S. Dept. of Labor