Organization touts benefits of buying local

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(Host) A new organization of businesses wants Vermonters to purchase as many products as possible from local merchants.

The group believes that purchasing decisions made by consumers can strongly affect the future of the local economy.

VPR’s Bob Kinzel reports:

(Kinzel) In many ways, the model for the Local First Vermont organization is an effort to encourage consumers to buy fresh local food products.

The idea is to expand that concept to many other items that people purchase – from office supplies to books to bicycles and to clothes.

Janice Shade is the executive director of Local First Vermont.” She says her group hopes to educate consumers about the importance of supporting locally owned businesses:

(Shade) “In this day and age with globalization really taking the forefront it’s important for people to remember that it’s there local businesses that are owned by the people who live and work in their communities and help support their communities and keep the money within their communities.”

(Kinzel) Shade says there also are major economic benefits of buying from these businesses:

(Shade) “There have been numerous studies done around the country. One was particularly done in Austin Texas that showed that $100 spent in a local bookstore returns $45 to the local community, while $100 spent at a chain book store returns only $13 to the local community. And there have been studies done across the country in Chicago, Maine all showing the same thing. They call it the multiplier effect.'”

(Kinzel) For many years, Montpelier Representative Warren Kitzmiller owned a bicycle sports store in the city. He’s lending his strong support to the buy local movement:

(Kitzmiller) “I spent a career as you know, encouraging people to shop locally. And I think the people simply don’t understand what a dramatic difference their purchasing power makes. And the little everyday decisions just go right back into the local economy and keep circulating around and it benefits everybody.”

(Kinzel) Claire Benedict is co-owner of Bear Pond Books. She says the store has a special relationship with many of its customers because it features local authors and caters to local reading trends:

(Benedict) “Our customers are very much aware of the importance of shopping locally. And they’re always telling us that I could get it somewhere else, but I want to buy it from you.’ They can get Harry Potter on line. But we want to buy it from you.’ We want to be a part of the store.’ That’s part of our community.’ We support a lot of things that go on in this community and people recognize that and they want to support us in return.”

(Kinzel) Local First Vermont officials say studies also show that locally owned businesses are more likely to support the work of volunteer and non profit groups in their communities.

For VPR News I’m Bob Kinzel in Montpelier.

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