a campaign of the Portland Independent Business & Community Alliance
Articles Dec 18, 2018
This time of year, we often think of buying unique, locally-made or sold items to give to loved ones. And there are plenty of ways to do so (check out our gift guide!), but if you want to Give Local without adding to your pile of things, a great option is to give to a local nonprofit.
Portland Buy Local has many non-profit members who are great candidates for your year-end giving. As part of our ongoing “Shift to Local” campaign, this December we are encouraging Portland residents and visitors to shift a portion of their gifting and giving to local, independent businesses and nonprofits.
As part of that campaign, we are featuring one of our nonprofit members: Wayside Food Programs. Approximately 1 in 6 Maine households are food insecure. Wayside is working to reduce that number. They are a small operation making a huge impact in our community. Last year, Wayside had some amazing numbers:
Many people don’t know it, but food waste is actually one of the biggest contributors toward greenhouse gases, so Wayside’s ability to rescue nearly 980,000 pounds of edible food that would have gone into the waste stream is particularly important. They redirected this food to 50 partner agencies, helping to reduce food waste while ensuring Mainers have enough to eat.
They also run a mobile food pantry in four residential communities, with a mix of fresh foods, which makes it easier for busy families (or those with limited access to transportation) to get healthy foods.
Portland’s nonprofit sector lifts up our whole community through their work. Let’s give back and give thanks by supporting them! Consider shifting an additional 10% of your gifting and giving this month to local, independent businesses and non-profits to build community and entrepreneurship, while keeping Portland independent!
Articles May 23, 2017
Join Portland Buy Local this summer as we celebrate Independents Week, July 1-7. Independents week is a national campaign to engage local independent businesses and citizens in celebrating entrepreneurial spirit and the freedom our local businesses embody.
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.
Articles Oct 19, 2016
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.
BAYSIDE BARK / Bayside Bowl / Benchmark Real Estate / Bull Feeney's / Caravan Beads / Casco Bay EyeCare / Clark Insurance / ClickToast – Digital Advertising / Coffee By Design / CornerStone Building & Restoration / CrossFit Beacon / The Fish & Bone / Float Harder Relaxation Center / Gorham Savings Bank / Green Clean Maine / Joan Leitzer / Knack Factory / Liquid Riot / Longfellow Books / Maine Business Immigration Coalition / Malone Commercial Brokers / Marsh Agency / Nine Stones / Nomads / OTTO / Philip Spalding / Port Property Management / Portland Discovery Land & Sea Tours / Portland Food Co-op / Portland Downtown / Renys Department Store / Taproot Magazine / The SunriseGuide / University Credit Union / Wellness Connection of Maine / XPress Copy / YMCA of Southern Maine / Young’s Furniture