Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Why Buy Local?

By Noa Kornbluh, Fall Fellow

One often hears the slogan “buy local,” but I was never really convinced that buying local made a significant impact.   Why buy local when local goods are often more expensive and less convenient than products from national chains?   Not too long ago I came across a powerful economic argument for buying local.  I was told that for every dollar spent at a national store 13% goes back into the local economy and if that same dollar was spent at a locally-owned business 43% returns to the community.  That is a 30% difference made with each dollar I spend, and that is a significant impact. 

This statistic comes from a study done by Civic Economics in Austin, Texas comparing the economic impact of local versus national book stores.  Civic Economics repeated a similar study in the San Francisco area.  The San Francisco study produced the same striking results, indicating that local businesses contribute much more to the local economy than national chains.  Economists found three aspects of local versus national businesses that create a profound difference in the impact on the local economy.  First, due to scale, local businesses have a higher ratio of jobs per market share.  National chains have corporate offices where they employ accountants and other administrators who work for the whole company.  Local businesses staff these jobs locally.  Second, local enterprises source more of their goods locally than national chains.  Due to convenience and scale, local business owners are more likely to buy from other local businesses instead of global suppliers.  Lastly, in local businesses a larger percentage of profits stay in the community.  Profits from small local businesses are spent by business owners in their neighborhoods on goods and services such as rent or going out to eat.  National and international businesses have stock holders located all over the world who share in profits.  Buying local may at times be more expensive or less convenient but it is an investment in the neighborhood we live in.  In the long run, the choices we make on a daily basis will shape the economic future of our community.

Women’s Initiative graduates work towards starting locally-owned businesses and in doing so they strengthen local economies.  Graduates open store fronts, provide jobs and invest in their communities.  When you purchase goods or services from a Women’s Initiative graduate you are not just supporting an incredible woman and entrepreneur, you are also investing in the local economy. 

To support both local businesses and Women’s Initiative graduates purchase tickets to the Love Local event happening at the Caine Shulte Contemporary Art Gallery in San Francisco on Friday November 16th.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Oakland’s First Fridays
If you haven’t been to Oakland’s First Fridays recently, it is worth well worth the trip and will most definitely quench your thirst for art, culture, and food.  What was once just a few blocks of art galleries open late to show their new exhibits has turned into 10+ blocks of festivities stretching from Jack London Square to Old Oakland and through the Uptown District.

On November 2nd, Women’s Initiative had the unique pleasure of spending First Fridays with Oakland Mayor Jean Quan.  She has supported the growth of Oakland’s Art Murmur which now draws crowds from across the Bay.  The Mayor hosted Women’s Initiative’s East Bay Board of Directors for an intimate reception at City Hall – complete with a tour of the Mayor’s office which boasts beautiful wood paneled ceilings and a very large fireplace, as seen below.  The Mayor accompanied Women’s Initiative on a tour of three graduate businesses that are helping transform Oakland’s empty store fronts into bustling businesses.  Penelope Abide, owner of Nneka, has taken the old Raider’s building on Broadway and created a retail space packed with local designers, artists, jewelers, and at least 4 other Women’s Initiative graduates’ products.  When she moved into the space on Broadway and 14th a year ago, it was one big, open area which has been converted into two retail spaces.  Right next store is Betti Ono Gallery, owned by Anyka Barber.  On this particular night, the Betti Ono gallery was home to a husband and wife artist’s duo, bringing multi-media art to a whole new dimension.    Betti Ono gallery is known to be one of the most popular spots on First Fridays – be sure to check out her December exhibition. 

The final stop on the Women’s Initiative business tour was Shoe Groupie, owned by Candice Littlefield and Dion Bullock.  With a selection of sassy shoes for ladies and men, as well as accessories, Shoe Groupie is nothing short of fabulous.  Mayor Quan was intrigued by a pair of rain boots that roll up and can be put in your bag when not in use.  Best of all, they are totally affordable and come in both black and leopard print. 

As we said our goodbyes to Mayor Quan and her team, she had a smile on her face; happy to see new business in Oakland?  Delighted that women are leading the charge for economic revitalization?  Women’s Initiative graduates are powerful agents of economic change in Oakland and we all share the Mayor’s vision of creating an Oakland that draws people from across the Bay Area to eat at our restaurants, shop our small businesses and help keep Oakland moving in a positive direction.  Thank you Penelope, Anyka, Candice and Dion for being such exceptional role models for other women business owners and thank you Mayor Quan for recognizing our efforts to contribute to Oakland’s renaissance.