Shop local!

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Take the pledge!

The Association of Alternative Newsweeklies, a trade organization of 130 alt weeklies nationwide, received help putting this project together from the people at BALLE, the Business Alliance for Local Living Economies.

What’s surprising are the numbers and how quickly they add up—from $100 to $34 million to $2.9 billion.

OK, first, let’s back up and tell you about a nationwide campaign SN&R is part of this holiday season. More than 70 alt weeklies across the country (including SN&R and its sister papers in Reno and Chico) have committed to a crusade that urges readers to spend at least $100 of their holiday money at locally owned stores. It’s an endeavor that could plug dollars into urban economies like Sacramento’s right when it’s needed most, as we head into a projected holiday-shopping slump and deepening recession.

Why will your $100 help? Because dollars spent with local businesses stay in the community at a much higher percentage than dollars spent at big-box chain stores. Local businesses produce more income, jobs and tax revenues for local regions. Local businesses keep neighborhoods vibrant and unique. Shopping local is good for the environment, since buying local reduces the need to ship products—including food—from thousands of miles away, thereby lessening greenhouse-gas emissions. Finally, there’s the obvious. Local businesses are fundamentally tied into the future of their communities and do things like donate more money to local nonprofits.

Here’s the math: If each one of SN&R’s readers spends $100 of their holiday money at local businesses between Thanksgiving and New Year’s (instead of in big-box stores), that comes to an additional $34 million pouring into our local economy. (An independent group, The Media Audit, estimates that SN&R’s “cume” once-a-month readership adds up to 343,700. Multiply by 100 and voilà, that’s $34 million.)

If you add up the numbers for participating weeklies nationwide—from San Diego to Seattle; Washington, D.C., to Philly; Chicago to Memphis—the cumulative readership is 17.5 million readers, ergo that’s $1.7 billion into local economies nationally. If you take into account data that shows the “multiplier effect” of all this spending, the amount grows to a whopping $2.9 billion! (The multiplier effect reflects a standard assumption that money spent locally tends to stay in the area, circulate through the community and increase economic activity.)

Sounds simple. But it won’t work without your participation.

So we ask you to join our campaign.

Instead of shipping all your money off this holiday season to China or wherever else it might meander in this global economy, keep more of it right here in Sacramento by spending $100 at locally rooted, human-scale businesses.

Take the plunge. Pledge to shop local.