Feb 2, 2010

Buy Local campaign begins

by Camille Smith

Savvy savers credit themselves on finding cheap deals. A lot of times, ordering online or shopping at huge chain stores ensure the lowest price. However, it is often a mystery who the money from those sales supports.

When money goes to online shopping, our community sees nothing in return, according to Marketing and Membership Director of the Retail Merchants Association, Inc. (RMA), Laurie Gulluscio.
While Gulluscio understands the purpose of online and large chain stores in that they create jobs, she believes it is the small businesses in a community that give the most back to that community. With this in mind, the RMA will be kicking off a new Buy Local — Join Local campaign Feb. 4 to registered business owners and Feb. 5 and 6 to the public at the Shop Local Trade Show at River Ridge Mall.

“If you shop at an independent business, three times as much goes into the community than if you shopped in a chain because it goes back to a corporate office,” Gulluscio said.

Her suggestion is to support locally owned small businesses to ensure the money spent will come back to the community.

“In an area that has four colleges, think of the damage if everybody is shopping online,” Gulluscio said. “If students could understand this fact and embrace their surrogate communities while here … it would be a huge breakthrough.”

The concept behind the Buy Local — Join Local campaign echoes the principles of Cinda Baxter’s 3/50 project. The 3/50 project urges individuals to pick three local small businesses and spend $50 between the three each month, according to their Web site the350project.net. If half of the employed population spent $50 each month in local small businesses, more than $42.6 billion in revenue would be generated.

The site explains that for every $100 spent in local businesses, $68 flows back to the community through taxes, payroll and other expenditures. When $100 is spent in a national chain, $43 stays in the community, and if the same amount is spent online, nothing comes home.

“Instead of buying that movie online, find a cool shop or bookstore that sells movies,” Gulluscio said. “Visit the wonderful and eclectic clothing shops downtown and around Rivermont. Skip the chain food experience and visit the many locally owned dining options in the area.”

Joellen Perkins, co-owner of The Spa located at Sakinas supports the Buy Local - Join Local campaign and knows first hand the financial loss to small local businesses when customers shop online.

“People need to realize that money spent at the small businesses in this town goes back into this town,” Perkins said.

Perkins also believes that local businesses can cater to their patrons in a way that large chain stores and online stores cannot.
“When a client expresses the desire for a particular product, we invest our time and money in that product,” Perkins said. “When they come here for a service, we know what is the best product for their need specifically.”

The RMA is eager to support the Lynchburg business community in its Buy Local efforts to educate the public on the importance of buying local and all that it entails, according to Gulluscio. Small changes in where money is spent can make a huge difference for a community.

Contact Camille J. Smith at

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