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Local First Utah Blog
Friday, 01 February 2013 10:48

Reason #8: You Love Your Neighbors

The 2012 Salt Lake City Indie Impact Study demonstrates that locally owned businesses in Utah return, on average, 3% of their revenue to charity – a full percentage point more than other local businesses across the country. We at Local First Utah are particularly proud of that simple statistic, because we think it points to a larger facet of culture in Utah. Here, we love our neighbors.

Our local businesses not only give to charity at a higher rate than national chain stores, but they link us together in a web of economic and social relationships. The staff of Local First Utah has the frequent privilege of hearing wonderful stories about our local business community. We thought we’d pass on just a few of these stories that show just how much we love our neighbors.

If you’re ever looking for inspiration, have a conversation with Kathie Chadbourne, owner of the Avenues Bistro on Third. Her stories are abundant and remarkable, ranging from anonymous gift cards taped to the door while the restaurant was being remodeled, to an unexpectedly packed house on the night that she “tested” whether or not the open sign worked, to an army of support staff provided by other local restaurateurs on a day when her former chef staged a walk out, taking much of the kitchen staff with him. Having received so much love from her neighbors, Kathie balks at the idea that the Avenues Bistro belongs to her, commenting rather, “It belongs to us all. It’s our restaurant.”

For the last two summers, Maryann Alston and her husband have hosted farmers’ markets at Garner Village, South Towne Mall and Wheeler Farm, working to create a truly local, community marketplace in Salt Lake County. The Alstons also run the Wasatch Front Farmers’ Market Store, located at 5823 South State Street, keeping the outstanding products of Utah’s food artisans available year round. The day after Christmas, the Market Store was burglarized. The theft resulted in the loss of their laptop, which contained all their business records for 2012, a television, and more than $2,000 worth of damage to the store. Ordinarily, this kind of set back would be devastating for a small business. Maryann posted a simple Facebook status regarding the break in, and before she knew it, patrons, vendors and friends began a “Fix the Door Fund,” and donated a new television to the store. As Maryann said regarding her experience, “We may never get our stolen goods back, but we know that these thieves cannot steal the community we have been embraced by.”

When Mololo Gardens advertised the comically titled, but seriously intended “Stop-Dad-From-Giving-Us-The-Axe-Sale” on Facebook, it was somewhat of a gamble. The potential loss of the Mololo Gardens retail store, meant saving the Mololo Gardens farm. Literally. The family that runs Mololo Gardens are first and foremost farmers, but out of a love for all things local, they opened as retail store on 400 South featuring Utah-made products ranging from mouthwash to chocolate tortillas.  The store also offers gardening classes, hosts local artists and musicians, and regularly open their doors to homeless neighbors, feeding them made from scratch soup and chili. After a tough January, it seemed like the store would need to close its doors – until hundreds of people showed up for the one day sale to show their support, and spend a few dollars, in order to keep Mololo Gardens in business.

Tell us your tales! If you have an encouraging story of how local businesses have impacted your community, pass it on to .

Published in Local First Utah Blog

            If you carry any doubt in your mind about the diverse types of products made in Utah, a quick trip to Mololo Gardens should dispel all uncertainties about the ingenuity of local entrepreneurs. Just to the south of Pioneer Park on 400 South, Mololo Gardens carries is everything from locally made chocolate tortillas to hand-mixed, hand-bottled, and hand-labeled mouthwash. The collection of local goods for sale in their little shop is genuinely awe-inspiring. Walking through the aisles at Mololo Gardens is like walking through a menagerie of entrepreneurial passion. Each product is a picture of the innovation that is required of local business owner to produce a truly unique product.

            Often, the notion of innovation speaks to newness, to the idea of creating something that’s never before been created. We think of technology, and of the future. While this is certainly the case with many of our local entrepreneurs, some local business owners have found that looking to the past provides them with the best source for a new idea.

            Artisans like those who create Slide Ridge Honey and Oolite Cheese have found inspiration by looking to the past, by returning to timeworn practices that many large-scale food producers have propelled past in an attempt to produce the most rather than to produce the best.
            Slide Ridge Honey has returned to the age-old standard of using a “mother” to turn their honey mead into honey vinegar. A mother is a spongy, gelatinous, living thing that rests on the surface of the liquid that’s being turned into vinegar. Its job is to eat the alcohol in the wine, and in doing so, turns the wine into vinegar. This centuries old practice has been reinvigorated by Martin James to create Slide Ridge’s delectable Honey Wine Vinegar.

            Joel and Rachel Wilcox, creators of Oolite Cheese, began their cheese making endeavors because of a simple fondness for cheese. As the explored the world of cheese, determining their likes and dislikes, they discovered a common love cheese’s like Roquefort and other cheeses made predominately from sheep’s milk, aged in limestone caves using mold.  A certain degree of serendipity led them to Manti, Utah, a small town that rest on limestone bedrock and is home to several sheep farmers. With these two elements in place, the Wilcoxes asked themselves,  “What does the mold taste like in Sanpete County?”

The answer came in the form of two unique cheeses: “Boys Pants Rebellion” and “What’s Her Name.” (The stories behind these titles deserve of a blog in and of themselves.) These cheeses are a remarkable homage to ancient cheese making practices, and are quite groundbreaking. Scientists at Utah State University believe the Wilcoxes have happened upon as new strain of cheese-making mold, which is, apparently, quite a big deal.  

“Ten Reasons to Buy Locally” is a photo narrative in the Risk Takers & Place Makers show on display now through the end of the year at the Salt Lake City & County Building. Don’t miss it!

Published in Local First Utah Blog

Recently, I was on the hunt for a new winter hat. I stopped by one of my favorite shops, and while perusing their selection of beanies, fedoras, berets and knit caps, the owner of the store starting trying on hats with me, helping me decide what kind of hat to buy. It was a short interaction, probably just a normal part of her day, but it mattered to me. I’m quite certain Gregg Steinhafel (the CEO of Target) is never going to give me advice on which kind of hat works best with the shape of my face.

There is a certain authenticity that comes with the passion and expertise local business owners possess regarding their chosen field. As patrons, we reap the benefits of the risk that local businesses owners have taken to invest their time and energy into running their business. It’s no easy task, and the determination required of a successful business owner is monumental.

The passion and expertise possessed by those behind the counter at local businesses not only add to the individual shopping experience, but to the collective knowledge and character of our communities. The Beer Nut in Salt Lake City is highly regarding as an essential source for homebrewers in Utah. Danburry Barber Shop in Provo, preserves a time-honored craft, while introducing the barber shop experience to a new generation. The folks at All About Socks in Ogden, genuinely are all about socks. They are local experts in the field of manufacturing and selling a product that nearly everybody needs.

These are just a few examples of the extraordinary knowledge base and resource that local businesses are to our communities. There is a certain joy possessed by those who have a deep love for the product or service they sell in their business, and it is gift to the rest of us to share in that joy – even when it just means buying a good old fashioned pair of socks.

“Ten Reasons to Buy Locally” is a photo narrative in the Risk Takers & Place Makers show on display now through the end of the year at the Salt Lake City & County Building. Don’t miss it!

Published in Local First Utah Blog
Friday, 07 December 2012 14:26

Reason #4: You Help the Environment

There are many ways in which shopping locally can benefit our environment. We all know that a tomato from the farmer’s market takes less packaging and fossil fuel to get to our table than one wearied by the long trip from Florida. It’s also easy to surmise that walking or biking to a neighborhood business district is friendlier to the planet than driving to a big box retailer. Every choice makes a difference. We are continually inspired by many innovative local businesses dedicated to sustaining our planet.
 
For instance, to help save our water supply, Pat Crowley of Chapul is introducing insects to American cuisine in the form of delicious, yes, delicious energy bars made from cricket flour. Momentum, a local recycling company, is expanding their capacity to help us effectively recycle glass. We can even purchase solar power from a locally owned provider.
 
In 2008, entrepreneurs Cammy and Marc Staker combined the power of the sun with the strength of an independent business and created Sunlight Solar, their own solar power contracting company. They help their neighbors get off the grid with top quality solar panel installations. In addition to residential work, they have provided many public spaces with clean, alternative energy including Tracy Aviary, The First Unitarian Church of SLC, and Alan Boyer’s green garage- Clark’s Auto. The Stakers run a certified E2 business and are dedicated to alternative energy education. Recently they were enthused to complete installation of solar panels on UTA North Temple platform canopies.
 
We honor our environmentally courageous business partners for the efforts they make and the risks they take as they work to create a greener, and brighter future.

Published in Local First Utah Blog
Thursday, 06 December 2012 16:16

Reason #3 You Create Local Jobs

The Institute for Local Self- Reliance reports some interesting statistics regarding local businesses and job creation. According to ILSR, for every one million dollars in sales, a local business employs eight people. A national retailer only employs five people for every one million dollars in sales. Amazon.com, which is quickly becoming one of the planet’s (that’s right, the planet’s) largest retailers, only employs one person for every million dollars in sales.

How much do those eight local jobs contribute to our economy?  As demonstrated by the 2012 Salt Lake City Indie Impact Study, 27% of the money spent in a locally owned business contributes to wages paid to employees and profits paid to owners. When that income is spent in another locally owned business, the whole cycle of revenue return starts all over again.

Sometimes real-life stories paint a picture a little better than statistics and data. Consider Rico Brand Foods. When Jorge Fierro came to the United States, he started his business by selling beans at the Downtown Farmers’ Market in Salt Lake City. Eventually, his production increased and he starting selling handmade salsas, tortillas, tamales and burritos at various farmers’ markets. Before long, he opened a catering business, and began distributing Rico Brand Foods in grocery stores throughout the state. Now, Jorge employs 75 people at the Rico Warehouse in the Granary District, and his business continues to expand.

“Ten Reasons to Buy Locally” is a photo narrative in the Risk Takers & Place Makers show on display now through the end of the year at the Salt Lake City & County Building. Don’t miss it!

Published in Local First Utah Blog

One doesn’t have to spend a tremendous amount of time in Utah to realize that this place is, well, different – for a lot of reasons. Many of us who call Utah home have come to love this state’s little oddities.  It’s not just Utah’s quirks that make it such a remarkable place to live. It’s the natural scenery, diverse and unparalleled in beauty. It’s the delightful blend of urban and rural lifestyles.  Cultures from all across the globe are represented in our state. These are just a few of the things that make Utah so unique, which our locally owned businesses embrace and celebrate so well.

The more than 4,000 businesses listed in the Local First Utah partner directory are the tip of the iceberg as far as how many locally owned businesses there are in our state. It’s these businesses – the flower shops and antique stores, the coffee houses and ice cream parlors, the bookstores and barbers – that keep our communities distinct.  

In a previous blog, we discussed the depth of place, and how types of businesses that flourish in certain areas speak to us about that place. The businesses that build the urban cores of our cities, and the businesses that cater to the needs of small town life, serve as a reflection of who we are Utahans. That’s one of the many reasons why it’s so important to support locally owned businesses. They are so much more than simply economic assets. They are an expression of who we are as a community.

“Ten Reasons to Buy Locally” is a photo narrative in the Risk Takers & Place Makers show on display now through the end of the year at the Salt Lake City & County Building. Don’t miss it!

Published in Local First Utah Blog

Reason #1: You kept your money in our economy.

The power of a well-spent dollar is really quite astonishing. When that dollar is spent locally, it has the power to boost our economy, to create jobs, and even to give to those in need. How does one little dollar accomplish all of that? Because the storefront where you just spend your money is the beginning of a series of interconnected relationships that link local businesses to one another.  It’s true that no man is an island, and no business is either.

Amplify that dollar one hundred fold, and the real power of buying locally is evident. For every $100 spent in a locally owned store, $52 is re-circulated into our Utah economy. Compared to the $13.60 that stays in Utah when $100 is spent in a national retailer, it’s clear that a well-spent  $100 can pack quite a punch. 

It’s not only that $52 stays in Utah. It’s the manner in which that money is put to work that makes such an impact.  About  $27 stays in the form of profit and labor. That’s money that creates and sustains jobs. Furthermore, locals are more likely to do business with other locals. Enough business that about $17 stays in our economy when local business owners decide to procure items from other locals for retail sale.  Locals are also more likely to employ other locals for business related services like web design, accounting or custodial work. About $4 goes towards the procurement of goods and services that are not for retail sale. Finally, locals care about their community, and they show it.  For every $100 spent in a locally owned business, about $3 is donated to charity.

Equipped with this information, consider the impact your holiday shopping could have. Take a look at the Shift Your Spending Calculator to find out the difference that a simple shift in spending habits could have on your community.

If you’re the kind of person who likes your data delivered via charts and graphs, make sure to check out the 2012 Salt Lake City Indie Impact Study.

“Ten Reasons to Buy Locally” is a photo narrative in the Risk Takers & Place Makers show on display now through the end of the year at the Salt Lake City & County Building. Don’t miss it!

Published in Local First Utah Blog
Thursday, 16 August 2012 14:37

Study Starts Lively Conversation: Buy Local

Yesterday we held a press conference to reveal the findings of the ground-breaking Civic Economics Study that was just completed in Salt Lake City. We are excited about the great turn-out and the subsequent conversations that are happening all over the valley as a result of this news.

Thank you to those who have shown support in our efforts to gather and spread this information.

We are glad to have the press' interest piqued. Among other mentions, Dawn House wrote an article for the Salt Lake Tribune, Keith McCord presented an in-depth segment on KSL TV, and Jennifer Napier-Pierce of KCPW did an interview with Nan Seymour, our Executive Director and Betsy Burton, co-founder of our board. Dan Houston of Civic Economics called in. In short, this information is spreading and people are becoming more educated and aware of the good that can be done by purchasing from locally owned businesses.

22 locally owned businesses, 15 retail and seven restaurants, completed the survey. We appreciate their support and willingness to participate.

We encourage you to take a look at the study results. Civic Economics, an independent economic analysis consultant, conducted the study. Their findings demonstrate what we have always intuited: money spent at locally owned businesses stays in, and boosts, our local economy.

We recognize that it is important for each person and household to look out for their own bottom line. We submit to you, that if you shift 10 percent of your spending from national chain stores to locally owned stores, you will make a difference in your community.

Study results show that a shift in 10 percent of spending to local business would retain $487 million for our local economy.

Please think about it. Talk with your family, your neighbors and your co-workers. What would happen in your community if you made the 10 percent shift?

The study results are a key factor in our Reason #1 to buy local first: You kept your money in your economy.  See the other nine reasons here.

Links to our media coverage:
KSL TV
Salt Lake Tribune
KCPW's CityViews

Download the survey results here: Survey Results (PDF)

Published in Press
Thursday, 14 June 2012 15:04

Ten Reasons for Buying Locally

Thank you for buying locally! Here’s what happens when you do:

You keep your money in our economy.

Four times more of your money, in fact. Studies show that for every dollar spent in a locally owned Utah business, four times more of that dollar stays in our economy than would be the case with a national retailer.

You embrace the character of our community.

We wouldn’t want our houses to look like everyone else’s. So why would we want our community to look that way?

You create local jobs.

Local businesses are better than chains at creating more jobs per consumer dollars spent.

You help the environment.

You conserved energy and resources in the form of less fuel for transportation and less packaging.

You benefit from our passion and expertise. 

We are your friends and neighbors and we have a vested interest in knowing how to serve you. We’re passionate and knowledgeable, why not take advantage of it?

You keep your tax dollars here. 

Buying locally means less corporate infrastructure, and more tax money left available to enhance our community. Also, spending locally instead of online ensures that your tax dollars are reinvested where they belong- right here in our community!

You encourage innovation and product diversity.

Whether brick and mortar retail or local online, service providers or manufacturing, local business innovators ensure marketplace diversity. A wider array of choices keeps prices lower over the long term

You love your neighbors.

We know you and you know us. Studies show that Utah's local businesses donate to community causes at three times the rate of chains.

You keep the American Dream alive.

You nurtured entrepreneurship, which is the foundation of our American economy.

You make us a destination.

The more interesting and unique we are as a community, the more we will attract new neighbors and visitors. This benefits everyone!

Want to use this in your store or business?

Join the Local First Movement as a partner -- it's free (though we value and encourage your monetary support of our work as well). By becoming a partner business with Local First Utah, the Ten Reasons for Buying Locally, and many more resources are available to you! If you're already a partner businesses, simply contact  to order your copies of the Ten Reasons for Buying Locally. 

Want to learn more about the Ten Reasons for Buying Locally?

Request Local First Utah's Executive Director Kristen Lavelett to come and speak in your communit to your networking group, or to your employees about the economic data behind the Ten Reasons for Buying Locally, and smart ways to implement the Ten Reasons in your business's marketing plan. 

Published in Why Local?