a campaign of the Portland Independent Business & Community Alliance
Wealth of vibrant independent businesses enriches all of Portland
By Kristen Smith
We’ve all read the “best of” lists and the accolades and recommendations that put Portland on the map for the rest of the country. But have we ever stopped and thought about exactly why Portland is such a beloved destination and place to live? Or, to put it more broadly, what makes any of us like any particular city?
The answer lies in the independent businesses. Think about the last city you enjoyed visiting. What made that place stand out for you? What made it interesting? What made it better than Anytown, USA? Chances are, somewhere in your answer would be the local, independent businesses.
The Holidays are upon us – full of good cheer, crisp days, and local shopping!
For the past year we’ve been talking about ‘shifting your spending’ and have highlighted everyone from banks to cryptozoologists to interior decorators. These are the businesses and organizations that make Poryland such a great city to live in and we hope that as we near the end of 2013, that you found a new place in our community to purchase your goods or services.
We at Portland Buy Local ask you to keep Portland’s businesses in mind as you map out your holiday shopping. From your Thanksgiving turkey to the table settings, from your holiday gifts to your dry cleaning, our members offer all that you’ll need to keep you sane and prepared during this busy season.
Some events to keep on your calendar:
For our members we are offering exclusive ad opportunities – see here for more details of which local new outlets are participating and the special rates they are sharing with us!
Join us on Monday evening, October 7th, for a Member Mixer at reVision Heat!
All year we’ve been encouraging you to shift your spending towards local vendors and services. This month, we pause to celebrate all the unique and exciting local spots that keep Portland vibrant and independent: celebrate your Independents!
July 1-7 we recognize Independents Week to engage Portland’s local businesses and community members in celebrating the spirit of entrepreneurism and freedom that independent businesses embody. Throughout the entire month of July we will celebrate independent businesses’ contributions to the community–and recognize local residents’ role in shaping our community’s future.
We are joining other local alliances and national partner organizations in supporting Independents. Be sure to take this opportunity to share your favorite spots and support the places that make Portland unique!
Thank you to everyone who took the time to complete last month’s survey of independent businesses by the Institute for Local Self Reliance. The confidential survey was used to gauge how independent businesses are faring in today’s economy, assess the impact of buy local campaigns like ours, and identify some of the main challenges affecting independent businesses.
The good news? Nationally, independent businesses saw solid revenue growth in 2012. More than two-thirds of businesses saw growth, and the average growth rate was 6.8 percent. Even better? This growth, say the businesses, was due in a large part to efforts from “buy local first” organizations like Portland Buy Local.
Out of the 2377 businesses from all across the country, 52 respondents were Portland, Maine businesses. We are grateful that ILSR was able to track Portland-specific results and report them back to us. Here is what Portland businesses had to say:
71% saw an increase in revenue from 2011 to 2012 (compared with over 66% nationally)
33% of retail businesses saw an increase in holiday sales from 2011-2012
We were very happy to learn that 84% of Portland businesses surveyed felt that Portland Buy Local has a positive impact on their business (significantly positive – 12%, moderately positive – 27%, or a little positive – 45%). 8% saw no impact.
73% of Portland businesses surveyed felt that public awareness of the importance of supporting locally owned businesses had increased in the past year. 0% felt that there had been a decrease. (Nationally, 68% felt there was an increase and 3% felt there was a decrease in the past year.)
45% felt that Portland Buy Local had helped make City officials more aware and supportive of independent business.
One major setback for small businesses on a national level has been the rise in “showrooming,” or the consumer practice of window shopping at local, independent businesses to scope out the desired merchandise, but then purchasing that merchandise at a national chain or online store. In Portland, 63% of businesses felt showrooming was impacting their business. To read more about showrooming and how to counter it, click here.
The other big hurdle for these small business is lack of financing. A whopping 23% of surveyed businesses reported that they were unable to secure a loan for in the last two years. In Portland, that number was 18%.
Aikido of Maine / Andrew and Debra Tenenbaum / AQUARIUS BALLROOM DANCE STUDIOS / BENCHMARK Residential & Investment Real Estate / Brianna Courneya / Bull Feeney's / Casco Bay EyeCare / Casco Bay Frames & Gallery / Coffee By Design / CornerStone Building & Restoration / Danielle Marks / David Munster’s TV / Fish & Bone / Goodwill Industries of Northern New England / Green Clean Maine / Joan Leitzer / Joe Gervais / John McVeigh / Kristen Smith / Marsh Agency / Mitch and Peg Cyr / Nine Stones / Nomads / Peter Metsch / Planet Dog Foundation / Port Property Management / Portland’s Downtown District / Sebago Brewing Company / Stacy Mitchell / The Great Lost Bear / The SunriseGuide / TruChoice FCU / Tsunami Tattoo / Vervacious / Videoport / XPress Copy