Carol Ness wrote in yesterday´s San Francisco Chronicle about the current push by Whole Foods Market to buy more of its produce locally. The grocer now requires all its stores to buy "out the back door" from at least four individual farmers, Ness reported.
From Austin, Texas, where Whole Foods is headquartered, to Portland, Maine, retailers are thinking locally. The American Booksellers Association reports that a group of independent business owners in Portland, earlier this month, announced the launch of the “Portland Buy Local" campaign.
Led by two independent booksellers — Allan Schmid of Books, Etc. and Stuart Gerson of Longfellow Books — the goal of the campaign is to educate the residents of Portland about the importance of supporting local, independent retailers.
"Downtown Portland is unique . . . there are so many independent shops, and we would like to keep it that way," Schmid said. Gerson, according to the American Booksellers Association, said the idea for a buy-local campaign had been kicked around among local business owners for about a year, but that Mary Allen Lindemann, owner of Portland´s Coffee By Design, finally spearheaded the effort.
Unlike many buy-local campaigns, this one did not arise from an immediate threat from an incoming chain store, Schmid said. Rather, it´s about preserving and growing the independent retailers in downtown Portland.
Who doesn´t love shopping on a downtown street lined with unique shops that can´t be found anywhere else? I mean, Barnes & Noble is great, but there´s something way special about browsing in a cozy local mom & pop bookstore.
And, isn´t it fun to return home from a trip with a gift for a friend or family member that you picked up at a neat little local store in, Portland — or Blue Ridge or New Smyrna Beach or Paducah or, well, you get my point.
For the most part, shopping areas in Atlanta looks pretty much like shopping areas in St. Louis or Phoenix or Miami.
As Gerson said: "It´s such a common experience — you go through the shopping area on the outskirts of Portland and you blink and you could be anywhere. Portland is a delightful little city. It´s nice to walk down the street and not have a Gap. There´s nothing wrong with these shops, but they´re everyplace. Knowing the business owners and their individual passions . . . it´s great. And deciding to live and have a shop here is a quality of life decision."
Couldn´t agree more.