Viewing In the Media
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%.
Why We Can’t Shop our Way to a Better Economy
In the TedX Dirigo fall conference, held in Lewiston on October 20th, Stacy Mitchell was one of the keynote speakers. Stacy, a researcher and writer for the Institute for Local Self-Reliance and a founding member of Portland Buy Local, spoke about buying locally and the problems with current public policy. Listen to her amazing talk to learn more.
Click here to read more about TED and TEDxDirigo.
Portland Buy Local is pleased to announce that we’re bringing Michael Shuman, author of several books, including The Small-Mart Revolution and, most recently, Local Dollars, Local Sense: How to Shift your money from Wall Street to Main Street and Achieve Real Prosperity, to Portland to give a talk at 7:00pm on Thursday, May 3rd, at SPACE Gallery, located at 538 Congress Street. There is no cost to attend.
Michael H. Shuman is an economist, attorney, author, and entrepreneur, and Director of Research and Marketing for Cutting Edge Capital. He has authored, coauthored, or edited eight books. He helped co-found BALLE, which represents 22,000 local businesses in North America in 80 communities, and is now a Fellow there.
In his new book, Local Dollars, Local Sense, Shuman points out that almost none of Americans’ $30 trillion in long-term savings—in stocks, bonds, pension funds, mutual funds, and insurance funds—goes to invest in small local businesses, even though these businesses constitute roughly half of the private economy and contribute even more to job growth and community prosperity. So, how can people increasingly concerned with the poor returns from Wall Street and the devastating impact of global companies on their communities invest in Main Street? Shuman outlines how we can use new investment tools – including those just legalized in a new crowdfunding law – to build local businesses and resilient regional economies.
After his discussion, there will be time available for question and answer.
Longfellow Books will be on-site selling copies of Shuman’s books. Portland’s Downtown District will be providing 2 hours of free parking to attendees at the Spring Street Garage. Wild Iris Inn, Tsunami Tattoo, and Coffee By Design are also sponsors of the event.
For immediate release
(PORTLAND, Me.) A new study produced by the Maine Center for Economic Policy (MECEP) has found that, on a dollar-for-dollar basis, the local economic impact of independently owned businesses in Portland is significantly greater than that of national chains. MECEP found that every $100 spent at locally owned businesses contributes an additional $58 to the local economy. By comparison, $100 spent at a representative national chain store in Portland yields just $33 in local economic impact.
“Jobs are the most pressing issue on everyone’s mind. Because locally owned businesses keep their profits in the community and are more likely to purchase goods and services from local sources, consumer spending at these businesses has a multiplier effect that increases local economic activity and creates jobs,” said Garrett Martin, Executive Director of MECEP and co-author of the study.
The study finds that changes in consumer spending choices can add up to sizeable economic benefits for the region. Based on 2007 retail sales figures, shifting just 10% of consumer spending in Cumberland County from national chains to locally owned businesses would result in an additional $127 million in economic activity, supporting 874 new jobs and generating over $35 million in wages.
MECEP relied on financial data provided by 28 independent businesses in Portland and information obtained from corporate filings for a representative national chain (Dollar Tree) to model local economic impact. Previous studies of the economic impacts of local businesses in other locales have produced similar findings.
The study was commissioned by the Portland Independent Business & Community Alliance (PIBCA), the nonprofit organization behind Portland’s “Buy Local” campaign. “Until now, we have had to rely on studies from other states to make the case that choosing locally owned, independent businesses generates significant benefits for our region’s economy. This study provides compelling data that is specific to Greater Portland,” said Susan Tran, president of PIBCA.
“Not only is Portmanteau a locally owned business, but we make our products right here in the shop,” said Nancy Lawrence, proprietor of the Portland clothing and accessories store. “We provide a lot of added value to the local economy, because so much of the cost of our goods goes to the wages of the artisans, who in turn spend their money in the community. That’s not the case with national chains, where it’s hard to find anything made in America, much less locally.”
“When a customer gets a movie at Videoport, the majority of what they spend goes directly into the local economy through our payroll, rent, utilities, and local taxes. When they get a movie online, all of what they spend could leave the state,” said Videoport owner Bill Duggan.
“Our success for over 77 years has been built on the strength of supporting and being supported by other local businesses, as well as individuals in our community. Relationships are built, friends are created and our community flourishes,” said Tom Skelton, president of Maine Hardware.
About MECEP — The Maine Center for Economic Policy was established in 1994 with the mission to promote a sustainable and equitable economy through analyzing and proposing solutions for Maine’s economic and fiscal challenges. www.mecep.org
About PIBCA — The Portland Independent Business and Community Alliance, which runs the Portland Buy Local campaign, is a five-year-old nonprofit organization with a membership of over 370 local, independent businesses. www.portlandbuylocal.org
By Avery Yale Kamila
With national chains closing up shop while Portland’s quirky downtown continues to thrive, supporters of independently owned businesses had many reasons to celebrate Tuesday night during the 4th annual Indie Biz Awards.
The party at Space Gallery in Portland marked the fifth year of the successful Portland Buy Local campaign, which is part of a growing national movement calling attention to the economic, social and cultural benefits of buying from vendors whose owners live in the same community.
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Reason #8 to Buy Local: Benefit from Local Owners’ Expertise
Thank you sustaining members!
Aikido of Maine / Andrew and Debra Tenenbaum / BENCHMARK Residential & Investment Real Estate / Brianna McCabe / Casco Bay EyeCare / Casco Bay Frames & Gallery / Coffee By Design / CornerStone Building & Restoration / Danielle Marks / David Munster’s TV / Fetch / Goodwill Industries of Northern New England / Green Clean Maine / Joan Leitzer / John McVeigh / Kristen Smith / Longfellow Books / Marsh Agency / Nine Stones / Nomads / Perch Design Studio / Peter Metsch / Planet Dog Foundation / Port Property Management / Portland’s Downtown District / RTP Great Rides for Everyone / Sebago Brewing Company / Stacy Mitchell / The Great Lost Bear / The SunriseGuide / Tsunami Tattoo / University Credit Union / Videoport / XPress Copy