As part of a continuing effort to bolster business and keep our communities vibrant, the Newton-Needham Chamber of Commerce is launching a new campaign designed to educate consumers about the value of spending locally.
The seven-week Shop Local for the Holidays campaign is designed to educate residents about the many benefits of supporting local merchants, restaurant and service providers, said Newton-Needham Chamber of Commerce President Greg Reibman.
“If we all agreed to modify just some of our shopping habits, we could lift our local economy, support our schools, our police, our fire departments and the conditions of our streets and sidewalks,” Reibman said.
Central to the effort, the Chamber is asking residents to sign the Shift Three Pledge and agree to buy at least three items locally that they might have otherwise purchased online or out-of-town. Those purchases could be large or small, a gift, a meal, or just something one needs.
“If just one third of our residents shifted just three purchases, cash registers in Newton and Needham would ring more than 100,000 extra times,” said Reibman.
The Chamber kicked-off the Shift Three campaign on Saturday Nov. 10 at 10 a.m. at Just Next Door, an independent gift and card shop in the Newton village of Auburndale. Newton Mayor Setti Warren, Village Bank President Ken Brennan and others were on hand to sign the Shift Three Pledge. Following the pledge signing, attendees participated in a “cash mob,” agreeing to spend $10 or more at any Auburndale business of their choosing.
The shop local theme was also a focal point four days later at the Newton-Needham Chamber’s Annual Achievement Breakfast on Wednesday Nov. 14, when business and civic leaders also signed the Shift Three Pledge. The achievement breakfast featured state Treasurer Steven Grossman, who, as the keynote speaker, addressed the importance of local commerce and his call for an internet sales tax as “a matter of Main Street fairness.”
The Newton TAB and The Needham Times published the pledge for the public to sign in their print editions.
Since then Chamber volunteers have fanned out across the community encouraging the public to sign the pledge and talk about the value of local commerce. An e-version of the pledge is also available for “signing” on Facebook and on the chamber’s website.
The Chamber will sponsor a second cash mob on Dec. 8 in West Newton and is co-sponsoring a third event on Friday Dec. 14 at 6:30 p.m, in Newton Highlands.
“The goal of this campaign is education and we thank the many volunteers who have been working so hard on this as well as the TAB, the Times and Wicked Local for partnering with us by publishing the Shift Three Pledge,” said Reibman.
The Shift Three Pledge is the first phase in longer term effort by the Newton-Needham Chamber designed to promote local commerce. Several national surveys have demonstrated that retailers in communities with active buy local campaigns have experienced markedly stronger revenue growth compared to those located in areas without such a campaign.
One study, by the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, a nonprofit research and educational organization, found that communities with a “shop local” initiative reported revenue growth of 5.6% on average in 2010, compared to 2.1% for those elsewhere. Independent retailers in “buy local” communities reported seeing a 5.2% increase in holiday sales, while those elsewhere reported an average gain of 0.8%. Almost half reported that shop local campaigns had brought new customers to their business and 55% said it had made existing customers more loyal.