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"Indie Week" campaign encourages shopping locally
By Chris Barnett / July 1, 2015 /   Loading Disqus...

More than 60 locally owned shops and restaurants will offer special discounts to customers from July 1-7 as part of the national “Independents Week” campaign, which encourages consumers to shop locally. Clustered primarily in Providence, the participating businesses range from boutiques and florists to bakeries and jewelers. 

Conceived by the American Independent Business Alliance, Independents Week is modeled on the “Small Business Saturday” campaign that occurs on the day after “Black Friday” in November. The local “Indie Week” campaign is coordinated by the Rhode Island Foundation through its Buy Local RI initiative. 

“Shopping at neighborhood stores and restaurants can pay big dividends. These are purchases that we already make, so no additional spending is necessary. The benefits multiply as the money moves through our economy,” said Jess David, the Foundation’s vice president of strategy and community investments. “As local businesses grow, they will expand and add to their workforce.”

In order to take advantage of the Indie Week discounts, shoppers must download a coupon that is good for specials at participating retailers and restaurants statewide. The coupon can also be displayed on a smart phone. 

Discounts range from 25 percent off everything except clearance items at Downcity Outfitters on Washington Street in downtown Providence to 50 percent off a loaf of freshly baked specialty bread at Seven Stars Bakery on Hope Street on the East Side. The complete list of participating businesses and discounts is posted at buylocalri.org. 

Only locally owned, Rhode Island businesses that list their companies on the Buy Local RI website are eligible to participate in the “Indie Week” campaign. There is no cost to register and businesses can create their own discounts. 

Jessica Becker of Ogies Trailer Park on Westminster Street in Providence hopes the tie-in with national Independents Week and the Buy Local RI campaign will make people more aware of the benefits of patronizing locally owned businesses like hers. 

“I hire local and I buy my supplies local. When you spend your leisure dollars at restaurants like mine instead of chains, you’re feeding the Rhode Island’s economy in many ways,” said Becker, who is giving diners free plain tater tots with the purchase of Granny Coo’s Bacon Burger or the Rhode Fired Chicken Sandwich. 

Dixie Howell of J. Marcel in Providence is offering 20 percent off every purchase at her Hope Street boutique, which offers clothing, footwear and fragrances among other products. 

"More than just somewhere to shop, local businesses are places where neighbors build bonds and ideas take root. Shopping locally is an investment in your own community. Supporting local shops and restaurants enhances their capacity to invest in the community economically as well as culturally," said Dixie Carroll, owner of J. Marcel on Hope Street. 

The Foundation is working with the Hope Street Merchants Association, The Arcade, the Wickenden Area Merchants Association, In Downcity, the South Main Street District, the Providence Foundation, Providence Monthly magazine and the Providence Warwick Convention and Visitors Bureau, which will distribute the discount coupons to the estimated 6,000 people who are expected to attend the North American Irish Dancing Championships in Providence over the weekend. 

“The offer to collaborate with these Providence-based organizations really drove this effort,” said David. “We hope Indie Week activities will expand in future years as potential partner organizations from other communities come forward."

Shifting just 10 percent of the spending that Rhode Island shoppers do from chains to independent, locally owned businesses has the potential to add $373 million to the state’s economy, according to research commissioned by the Foundation last year. 

The study estimates that 57 percent of spending with locally owned businesses stays in the state’s economy compared to just 13.6 percent of spending at major national chains. 

The Foundation took on the Buy Local RI campaign coming out of its Make It Happen RI economic development initiative, which brought together more than 300 business leaders to brainstorm ideas to create jobs and jumpstart the state’s economy. 

In addition to supporting Independents Week and Small Business Saturday, Buy Local RI gives consumers and businesses year-round access to a database they can use to search for products and services offered by locally owned companies. 

The Rhode Island Foundation is the largest and most comprehensive funder of nonprofit organizations in Rhode Island.  In 2014, the Foundation awarded $34.8 million in grants to organizations addressing the state’s most pressing issues and needs of diverse communities. Through leadership, fundraising and grantmaking activities, often in partnership with individuals and organizations, the Foundation is helping Rhode Island reach its true potential.
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