Residents of Portland are used to seeing the little blue “Buy Local” stickers in store windows and on automobile bumpers. The stickers are from Portland Buy Local, a group whose mission is “to support locally owned, independent businesses in Portland, to maintain (Portland’s) unique community character, provide continuing opportunities for entrepreneurs, build community economic strength and prevent the displacement of community-based businesses by national and global chains.”
Nov. 26 is Shop Small Saturday all across our great country. It’s a day set aside for holiday shopping at independently owned businesses and an opportunity to get out with friends and family to shop, dine and meet the small-business owners who make our city the unique place it is.
Why should purchasing from local vendors matter to the citizens of the Portland area? Shopping at small, independently owned businesses brings our community together and keeps more money in our local Maine economy.
A 2011 study conducted by the Maine Center for Economic Policy and funded by Portland Buy Local concluded that each $100 spent at a locally owned business generates $58 in “additional economic impact,” compared to $33 in additional economic impact on the local economy when purchasing from a national chain – a difference of 76 percent.
My partner and I operate a local payroll and accounting firm in downtown Portland named Local Economy. It’s not a retail operation, like those where you’ll be shopping on Small Business Saturday, but after reading the Maine Center for Economic Policy study, I was interested in seeing how much of each dollar spent at our business stays in the Maine economy.
My goal is to share with you where your money goes after you spend it at our company, and then attempt to explain how that might compare when the same transactions are made with companies that have a local office in Maine, but have corporate headquarters out of state, or when money is spent online with companies that don’t have any physical presence in Maine.
My study concluded that 69 cents of every dollar spent at our business stays in Maine:
• 27 cents of every dollar was paid as net salaries to employees. That is actual take-home pay that goes into employees’ bank accounts after withholding federal and state taxes.
• 14 cents of each dollar was net profit that went to the local Maine owners of our company.
• 8 cents was paid to Community Health Options, a health insurance company headquartered in Lewiston.
• 6 cents went to our local Portland landlord for rent.
• 6 cents was paid to the state of Maine in the form of state income tax withholdings, state unemployment insurance, state payroll processing bond insurance and state business licenses.
The remaining 8 cents that was put back into the local Maine economy went to independent vendors for office supplies, a locally owned moving company (we moved our office last year), our local computer repair guru, our local electrician (who’s helped with wiring our new office), a local security monitoring company, a local paper shredding company, a local attorney, local restaurants and our local bank in the form of interest and bank fees, plus a few others.
Compare this with buying from a retailer that has a local office in Maine but maintains its corporate headquarters outside the state. Yes, the local office provides jobs for Mainers and possibly rental income to local landlords, but some portion of the dollars you spend with those companies pays for the salaries of out-of-state executives and corporate staff.
Those out-of-state workers aren’t paying Maine state income tax, and goods purchased by the corporate office aren’t charged Maine sales tax. It’s a good bet that their budget for office supplies, legal advice, security systems and entertainment isn’t spent in Maine, either.
Now consider how much of your money will stay in Maine when you purchase from an online retailer that doesn’t have an office in Maine. The answer is: pretty much zero!
The point is to keep local businesses in mind, especially at this time of year. I encourage you to shop locally this holiday season. Independently owned businesses are a vital component of what makes Maine and the Portland area such an amazing place to live.
We understand that what benefits us benefits you – and, just as importantly, what benefits you benefits us. All of us, the independent business owners and our customers, are what make our community unique and give Maine such an incredible sense of place.
Tom Gangewer is a member of the board of directors of Portland Buy Local and partner at the Portland payroll and accounting firm Local Economy.
Join us at the 9th annual Indie Biz Awards on Thursday, October 6 at the Portland House of Music and Events, located at 25 Temple Street and celebrate Portland’s vibrant independent businesses and community organizations! This free event will boast a silent & live auction featuring treasures from Portland’s independent businesses, as well as local food and brews.
Hosted by Erin Ovalle, with live music by Saved and Sound, this free event will boast a live and silent auction featuring treasures from Portland’s independent businesses. Local brews will be on tap, and delicious food will generously be provided by: OTTO, Arabica Coffee Company, Aurora Provisions, Cabot Farmers Annex, Kamasouptra, Dean’s Sweets, Rosemont Market & Bakery, K Horton, Portland Food Co-op, Standard Baking Co., Tandem Coffee Roasters, and My 3 Sisters Italian Cookies.
Thanks to the following businesses for donating unique gems to our silent and live auctions: Aikido of Maine, Allagash Brewing Co., American Roots, Anchorpak, Ann Tracy Photography & Fine Art, Aristelle, Bard Coffee, Bay Club Fitness, Bee Well Massage, Bowline Co., Caravan Beads, Circus Maine, CrossFit Beacon, David Wood, Dobra Tea, El Corazon Food Truck, Etain Boutique, Figgy’s Takeout & Catering, Fish & Bone, Flowfold, GreenLight Studio, Gritty McDuff’s Brew Pub, Guitar Grave, Home Remedies, Land of Treasure, LeRoux Kitchen, Letterpress Books, Lila East End Yoga, Longfellow Books, Love Kupcakes, Maine Beer Tours, Maine Bodyworks, Maine Foodie Tours, Maine Music and Health, Maine Narrow Gauge Railroad Company & Museum, Maine Yoga Kids, METRO- Greater Portland Transit, Miyake Restaurant, Mosher Law, Nomads, One Longfellow Square, Patti’s Machine Quilting & Gallery, Portland Conservatory of Music, Portland Flea-for-All, Portland Museum of Art, Portland Paddle, Portland Schooner Co., Portmanteau, Rick’s Lobby Cafe, Rising Tide Brewing Company, Shift Portland, Sip of Europe, Sonny’s/ Local 188/ Salvage Bbq, SPACE Gallery, Spiral Tree Yoga and Wellness Studio, Stinson & Company, Summer Feet Cycling, The Dog Wash, Etc., The Dominic White Portrait Drawing Studio, The Holy Donut, The Honey Exchange, The SunriseGuide, Think Tank Coworking, Tim McLain Massage, Treehouse Cafe, Vena’s Fizz House, Z Fabrics, & Zootility Tools.
Our Facebook event is a great way to RSVP and share the local love!
Sister’s Gourmet Deli
East Brown Cow Management
Garbage to Garden
Pickwick Independent Press
Wild Carrot Herbs
World Tree Spa
The Portland Buy Local campaign was launched in July 2006 by Portland business owners and citizens hoping to counteract the rising influence of national chains through collective marketing and education. After receiving an enthusiastic response from both businesses and residents, the initial working group incorporated the Portland Independent Business and Community Alliance (PIBCA) in September 2006 and formed the organization’s first Board of Directors and Advisory Board.
In its ten-year history, PIBCA has welcomed more than 750 business members, with a current annual average of 400 members. Members proudly utilize free Portland Buy Local window decals, posters, and countertop thank-you cards, while supporters wear t-shirts, display bumper stickers, and carry canvas shopping totes throughout the Greater Portland area. We have so much to celebrate after our first decade, thanks to you: our members.
2015 – 2016
Portland Buy Local has really spread our wings since we were born ten years ago. We have interacted with even more of our members this year than ever before (and as the membership is growing even bigger that’s saying a lot!); we have participated in more community events and put on more of our own; and we have worked hard to promote our members and their viewpoints in a number of different spheres. We also drafted a strategic plan, outlining our vision for the future and how we’re planning to get there.
Some of the highlights from our ninth year include:
From meeting with Portland’s new mayor to joining the Portland Regional Chamber of Commerce to writing an op-ed in the Portland Press Herald against the proposed CVS on Forest Avenue, Portland Buy Local has been working hard to raise the visibility and represent the viewpoints of local businesses here in our community. While our membership was split on the minimum wage proposal last fall, we participated in the Mayor’s Minimum Wage Task Force, and surveyed our members and released their viewpoints for discussion.
In Support of Thoughtful Development
In response to the citywide outcry over the CVS development proposed on Forest Avenue, District 1 Councilor Belinda Ray requested the Portland Planning Board consider a zone change in this location. On March 22nd, the Planning Board voted to recommend a zoning change to B-2b in this location in just one example of several mechanisms that are being explored by the City to protect the existing buildings as well as guide future development to be mindful of local desire to preserve character and independent businesses, and promote a walkable, dense streetscape on Forest Avenue. The Portland Buy Local Board submitted a letter to the editor in the Portland Press Herald earlier this year stating its position in support of a built environment that allows local, independent businesses to thrive in Portland, and spoke about the issue during an interview on Channel 8.
In an effort to better understand how policy shapes local economies, Portland Buy Local has worked with local business owners, community organizers, and researchers at the Muskie School of Public Policy to identify policies that Portland might consider adopting. These findings, combined with research from the Institute for Local Self Reliance, are the foundation of case studies that are currently being conducted.
Membership Development and Outreach: Portland Buy Local now has 450 members, an increase of 26% from last year. It’s exciting to enter our 10th year in such a strong position. Our Program Manager, Jenn Thompson, and our membership committee have put a lot of effort into bringing new businesses into the organization and to connecting with as many of our existing members as possible. We also launched our ‘Buy Local Hero’ card this year, which members use to claim discounts at 43 of our diverse member businesses.
Portland Buy Local Organized Events: The 2015 Indie Biz Awards was our most successful community building and fundraising event ever! More than 200 people attended to celebrate local business here in Portland and we had more sponsors supporting the Buy Local cause than ever before. Planning for the 2016 event is already underway; mark your calendars for October 6, 2016 at the Portland House of Music!
We also organized five Brown Bag Lunch Forums, which more than 100 people came together to focus on:
We continued our longstanding Buy Local Member Mixer series, sponsored by Sebago Brewing Company, with events at Peloton Labs, The Sunrise Guide, and New England Distilling.
Community Outreach: From the Farmers’ Market to Downtown Worker Appreciation Day to Rosemont Harvest in the Hood, Portland Buy Local has been all around town. President Tony Cox represented Portland Buy Local on a panel at Creative Portland’s The Challenge of Change: Are We Loving Portland to Death event to share our member’s perspectives on rising commercial rents, minimum wage and more, plus we exhibited at the event. More than 200 community members came together to talk about the vision for Portland’s future.
Other places you’ve run into Portland Buy Local this year include:
Educational Outreach: Portland Buy Local puts a significant amount of effort over the course of the year to educate the public about the importance of buying locally. This past year, we’ve reached more than 20,000 people with our Portland Buy Local directories and were present in more tourist oriented locations, including the Portland Jetport, Gateway Terminal and area hotels. We’ve also discussed local economic ethics in the Bollard, MPBN, WMPG, Portland Press Herald, Dispatch Magazine, Channel 8, The Forecaster, West End News, Portland Downtown’s Guide, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. You’ve probably also seen “BUY LOCAL” on the Time and Temp building several times throughout the year!
Engagement in Numbers:
In the beginning of this fiscal year, the board approved a budget of $56,677 with the expectation that the organization would increase spending in certain areas to grow membership and use up to $10,277 in savings.
For the fiscal year of July 1, 2015 through June 3, 2016 we had an income of $42,867.89 with $33,046.46 coming from membership dues and $9,829.68 from the Indie Biz awards. During the same period we had $48,000.00 in expenses for a net operating loss of $5,932.82.
In comparison for the fiscal year of July 1, 2014 through June 3, 2015 we had a total income of $41,873.59 and total expenses of 38,869.42 for a surplus of $3,004.
The rise in expenses affected all areas of our operations with Program Manager compensation and the board’s decision to produce locally sourced tote bags being noteable line items.
Portland Buy Local Gift Ideas – Forgo the Maine Mall this year and shop in your downtown. This year we reached out to our members to ask them for the best local gift ideas for Mother’s Day.
Handbags – $170
Kurier is a small boutique that has an array of beautiful, and locally made, products ranging from handbags and accessories to apparel and personal goods. Featured in the photograph is the Lenore handbag for $170.
615A Congress St., Portland
Banana-Strawberry-Nutella Crepe with Ice Cream – $5.75
Normally priced at $6.45, this delicious treat is available with the purchase of a drink and is an amazing way to kick start Mother’s Day. But who is to tell Mom she can’t have dessert all day? Swing by Tu-Fri from 9am to 8pm, Sa-Su 8-8.
229 Congress St., Portland
Soy Candle – $24
131 Middle St., Portland
100% Beeswax Candles – $19.99
The Honey Exchange has a wide variety of sizes and styles for Mom’s indoor and outdoor candle needs! Supply her with one of these patio or formal dining table candles featured, and it will burn clean for 50 hours and remove allergens from the air!
494 Stevens Av., Portland
Pembroke White Bow Tie – $59
The perfect addition to any spring outfit, from nautical chic Maine weddings to country cocktail parties by the lake!
35 Hammond St., Portland
Baby Book – $17.99
Little Ghost Vintage has lots of different goodies for Mother’s Day! A beautiful and slightly modern version of a baby book is featured for $17.99, but they also have A Guide to Discovering Nature. Kits to do with Mom include Nature Art Kits and Seedling DIY Solar System Kits.
477 Congress St., Portland
Recycled Reflections – Price Varies
Gardiner, Maine artist Curt Brown works tirelessly to salvage old barn doors and windows from across Maine to make into beautiful mirrors. Having a Recycled Reflection mirror in your home helps preserve some of Maine’s history in a stylish, functional way.
83 West Commercial St., Portland
Stand-Up Paddleboard (SUP) Lesson – $45
If your mother likes being on the water and hasn’t tried SUP, an introductory lesson could make a great gift. Portland Paddle’s weekly SUP lessons begin in early June, so you can reserve a spot for your mother or give her a gift certificate so she can reserve one herself.
East End Beach, Portland
Vivid Motion’s production of Peter Pan – $13 adults/$6 kids under 13
This Mother’s Day send mom on a vacation she’ll never forget; a trip to Neverland! Soak in the native culture while luxuriating in the mermaid lagoon. Sail the seas with Captain Hook, explore the island with the Lost Boys, and soar through the skies with Peter Pan and Wendy! Get tickets for Vivid Motion’s production of Peter Pan. Proceeds benefit the Center for Grieving Children. Shows: 5/13 – 7:30, 5/14 – 2:30 &7:30, 5/15 – 2:30.
St Lawrence Arts, 76 Congress St., Portland
Totes – start at $15
Patti’s Machine Quilting & Gallery has you covered for any and all tote needs! Whether mom needs a garden tote, market tote, book tote, or shopping tote while shopping local! Mention this ad in the store and receive 10% off your tote or table runner!
570 Brighton Ave., Portland
Jewelry – $25 (bracelet), $15 (earrings)
Why spend money buying Mom pre-made jewelry when you can design and make something special for less? You can make this sterling silver and gemstone bracelet for less than $25.00, and either pair of earrings for under $15.00! Caravan Beads Retail Store’s friendly and knowledge staff can help you create and customize a memorable gift for Mom on her special day. All skill levels are welcome.
915 Forest Ave., Portland
Rhubarb Smash Liqueur (375 ml) – $21.49
Something sweet & tart for Mom this Mother’s day from Sweetgrass Winery & Distillery. This liqueur is made from 95 % Maine rhubarb and 5% Maine elderberries. Something for Mom to sip and savor.
324 Fore St., Portland
Wallet Card Bottle Opener –
Summer is coming and that means grilling, back yards, bonfires and sipping on the best summer time local craft beer’s. Open your favorite beer with your favorite state. Introducing our 50 States Wallet Card Bottle Opener Collection.
170 Anderson St., Portland
Birth Stone Rings – Prices begin at $120
Celebrate Mother’s Day with Folia’s updated classic birthstone rings! Easily stack-able and infinitely versatile. Textured solitaire bands showcase the birthstones of all of your loved ones — custom made at Folia in your choice of gemstone and precious metal.
50 Exchange St., Portland
Full Dog Wash – price varies, starting at $20
Baths in the kitchen sink? Save it for the photo album. Let your loved one take advantage of The Dog Wash Etc ergonomic tubs, professional equipment and expert staff. No bending, no lifting, no struggle, no mess! A gift certificate for a self- or full-service dog wash guarantees a clean dog, tidy bathroom and quality one-on-one time with their second favorite.
1037 Forest Ave., Portland
Rising Tide Items – Prices listed
103 Fox St., Portland
Cards and Chocolate Boxes – Prices vary by selection
Wide selection of unique cards and custom chocolate boxes made for mom!
3 Moulton St., Portland
In Spa Package – $89
This package from SOAKOLOGY will cater to a very special Mom for a wonderfully affordable price. The package includes: an aroma therapy foot soak and foot massage along with a snack and beverage plus a personalized gift to take home. Also available are SOAKOLOGY gift cards if you are unsure when Mom will able to take the time for a spa package. Gift cards never expire and hold their value for ever.
Create an oasis of relaxation for Mom ‘at home’ with the pre-packaged gift set! This gift set includes a pot of tea, a bit of chocolate to savor with the tea and an essential oil bar for massage & soak (geranium, rose, cocoa & neem) for only $20.
511 Congress St., Portland
“Little Mainer” Jumper – $22
For new Moms or Grandmas, snag a little something for their new little something from Little Tap House! Available inside are the Little Mainer Classic Style Jumpers! They are wicked pissah cute!
106 High St., Portland
3 Mystic Spray Tans – $66
Send some love in the form of a spray bottle this Mother’s Day. Mom will look and feel amazing for that special occasion or her regular routine! Maine may not have Florida’s sun, but thankfully it does have Tanorama Tanning & Clothing. Make it a date and go together!
287 Marginal Way, Portland
DOG IS GOOD Never Walk Alone Hoodie – $49.99
Whether fosters, sitters or lifetime caretakers, dog moms do a lot! They take care of everything from feeding to potty accidents, training sessions that require lots of patience, and administering lots of love and walks. If you want to thank a dog mama in your life we’ve got you covered with these fun tee’s totes & sweatshirts!
195 Commercial St., Portland
Touareg Loose Leaf Tea – $4.50 – $10
For a mom that does so much, give her a gift she can truly indulge in! There is a massive variety of loose leaf teas for Mom at Dobrá, including specialties like Touareg. Dobrá also has black, herbals, green, pu-er, white/wild and oolong teas available. She can brew some you pick out special for her or brew her own with a gift certificate!
89 Exchange St., Portland
House Cleaning – $259
A Common Area Special! A deep cleaning of your Entry/Mudroom, Kitchen, Dining Room, Living Room, ½ bath, and staircase. This will be done by one of Green Clean Maine’s Earth-Loving, Dirt-Fighting cleaning teams who will scrub, polish and shine your home to perfection, all using their own hand-made, super-effective cleaning supplies. You’ll love the results, and the time you’ll free up to focus on the more important things in life!
179 Sheridan St., Suite 200, Portland
Salt Caramels (package of 8) – $17.50
Give that sweet mama of yours some sweet love from Dean’s Sweets! Choose from the many yummy treats inside that include a box of yummy salt caramels and chocolate Xs and Os (to spell out your love!). Go visit the store with Mom on May 6th (First Friday) for a book signing by Nicole Chaison, author of the graphic novel The Passion of the Hausfrau: Motherhood Illuminated.
475 Fore St., Portland
Beading Party – Price depends on materials
Get Mom and her whole gang together for a private beading party at The Bead Hound! With beautiful materials, the parties are open for all levels of bead designers and is a great way to make memories and celebrate Mom!
477 Congress St. Suite 9W, Portland
The Portland Buy Local organization, now in its 10th year, has a mission of educating its members and the public about the benefits of supporting our local economy. It is in this capacity that the board of Portland Buy Local would like to convey its concern over the recent proposal on Forest Avenue by CVS to demolish five existing buildings, several of which house local, independent businesses, in order to build a national chain store. We would be remiss if we did not point out to the city leadership both the physical and economic impacts of the CVS proposal.
The Portland community has recently been engaged in a citywide conversation about growth and change. At the heart of the debate is the question of not whether Portland should grow or change but how. We at Portland Buy Local believe the proliferation of local businesses is an essential and desirable component of Portland’s character. A proposal like the one on Forest Avenue erodes the fundamental DNA that locals and visitors alike cherish about our city.
First, there is a physical benefit to preserving buildings like those proposed to be torn down by the CVS project. Recent attention has been given to Forest Avenue as a major corridor with streetscape improvements at Exit 6 and plans to transform Woodfords Corner.
Replacing five existing buildings on Forest Avenue with a single building surrounded by parking drastically changes the character of this critical gateway location and undermines work that has already been done. Not only does preserving the existing buildings keep the desired feel of the street, it also has the impact of preserving small-scale, affordable real estate for our local, independent businesses.
Second, there is economic benefit to the City of Portland in preserving buildings like those proposed to be torn down by the CVS project – higher tax revenues and employment. Cities gain more income through property taxes when there is a high number of small, dense parcels with buildings. By tearing down five buildings and combining several smaller parcels into one larger parcel with only one, low density building, the City will lose property tax revenue in the process and jobs will be displaced. In other words, the sum of the parts is greater than the whole.
The Portland Buy Local board hopes that the community outcry over the CVS project brings to light some of the policy changes needed in the city to protect our local character and quality of life.
With the city’s recent stated interest in concentrating more effort in developing Forest Avenue, we hope those goals are achieved through thoughtful planning and not simply letting those with the deepest pockets determine the future of that area. Portland has grown tremendously as the economic engine of Maine and as a magnet for innovative, entrepreneurial individuals of all ages and backgrounds.
The appeal of our city for those who want to vacation here, live here, and work here stems from the unique character our independent businesses and restaurants create. Tourists want to visit our city because it is not like any they have visited before. Residents want to live here because of the variety of offerings and the close connections our locally-owned businesses provide.
And business owners want to locate and start their businesses here because they see it is a place that values independent businesses and it is a place where they have the potential to thrive.
If we as a city do not carefully plan our development, we may end up with a series of strip malls and chain stores that do not add to our city’s vision of creating a good life for all and, in fact, detract from it economically, aesthetically, and culturally. While we will continue to advocate for our mission and our membership, we also welcome the opportunity to be a resource and community partner as the city tackles the challenge of change.
Danielle Sarmir is a Portland Buy Local Board Member and Jennifer Thompson is the Portland Buy Local Ambassador. Both live in Portland.
Aikido of Maine / Andrew and Debra Tenenbaum / angela adams / BENCHMARK Residential & Investment Real Estate / The Brand Company / Bull Feeney's / Casco Bay EyeCare / Casco Bay Frames & Gallery / Coffee By Design / CornerStone Building & Restoration / The Fish & Bone / Goodwill Industries of Northern New England / Green Clean Maine / Joan Leitzer / Liquid Riot / Longfellow Books / Marsh Agency / Nine Stones / Nomads / OTTO / Peter Metsch / Philip Spalding / Old Port Magazine / Port Property Management / Portland Downtown / Portland Farmers’ Market / Renys Department Store / Sebago Brewing Company / Supreme Clean / The SunriseGuide / Thurstons Wicked Good Burgers / Tsunami Tattoo / University Credit Union / Vervacious / XPress Copy