Communities around the U.S., including ours here in Dane County, Wisconsin,  are taking advantage of the 4th of July Independence Day holiday to shoot off some PR fireworks calling attention to their independent businesses.  This effort is part of the Buy Local movement, which draws on the interests of economists, farmers, politicians, environmentalists and retailers.   This groundswell of support for locally owned business can be a real boon to independent shopkeepers trying to compete with national or international chains.

 Economic data supports the concept that locally owned business gives more back to the community than chain stores.  A much-quoted study from the Chicago neighborhood of Andersonville, conducted by Civic Economics in 2004, states that for every $100 spent with a local firm, $68 stays in Chicago, in comparison to only $43 of every $100 spent with a chain firm (  This makes good sense —  after all, the independent hires a local lawyer, advertising agency, and accountant and keeps any profits in the community rather than sending them off to shareholders in Bentonville, Arkansas, or some other city.

Consumers may not realize the importance of where they spend their dollars. Many cities and smaller communities have started awareness campaigns to educate the public about the economic and environmental impact of supporting locally owned businesses. Rather than coming out as “anti-chain,” these public relations efforts have encouraged thoughtful decision making in each buying choice.

You can start your own Buy Local campaign, as we did here in Madison (, or you can align your area with the Business Alliance for Living Local Economies (BALLE) movement ( or the American Independent Business Alliance (AMIBA;  These two organizations are great resources to help your community make every day Independents Day!

Happy Fourth of July,

Carol “Orange” Schroeder

To read more about participating in the Buy Local movement, see Chapter 11 of my book, Specialty Shop Retailing: Everything You Need to Know to Run Your Own Store, available (autographed at no extra charge!) through our web site,  Or if you prefer, you can buy it through your nearest local independent bookseller, either in person or online by going to Indie Bound (formerly Book Sense) at