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How to Make Local Business Owners Dance 

What you didn't know about local purchases


Leela Morimoto's phone exclaimed, pretending to be a cash register.

"What did you sell?" I asked when I saw the smile appear on her face, knowing the sound was a notification from Etsy telling her someone just made a purchase from her shop, Leemo Designs.

Randi Holm, of Holm Made Toffee, purchases fresh-baked goods at the downtown Bend Farmers Market from Miki Bekkari, owner of Blissful Spoon. - AMANDA LONG/AMANDA PHOTOGRAPHIC
  • Amanda Long/Amanda Photographic
  • Randi Holm, of Holm Made Toffee, purchases fresh-baked goods at the downtown Bend Farmers Market from Miki Bekkari, owner of Blissful Spoon.

"A magnetic fridge white board," said Morimoto. "That's the third one this week."

"They have good taste," I giggled, since I use that same board to keep track of what groceries to buy.

That purchase made Morimoto feel good, but she says, "Knowing the majority of that income stays in our community instead of going to a huge corporation is a big plus."

Other business owners echo the same sentiment.

"When you shop local, you're actually supporting numerous small businesses in one transaction," said Randi Holm, co-owner of local company Holm Made Toffee. "You're not just buying toffee. You're also supporting the local retailer that carries my product, the local purveyors I source ingredients from, the local vendors that provide services (printing, packaging, linen cleaning, equipment maintenance, plumbers, electricians, etc.). Because most in the small business community often choose to do business with other small businesses, you are unknowingly supporting dozens of other local businesses with your single purchase. Which is amazing to really stop and think about!"

Samantha Barsky, owner of Note•ify and Gift•ify, does the same.

"I take the money I make from selling to individuals locally to support local manufacturers to make my product, and then in turn those manufacturers are spending that money to buy things in the community," said Barsky, "It's a cycle." But before Barsky can put that money back into the community she has to make it. "As a micro business owner who sells paper products, home goods and gifts, the holiday season is my make-it-or-break-it time of year," said Barsky, "I rely on holiday sales to help push me through slower times of year. Shopping small and local is what keeps all us going."

Many Central Oregon businesses rely on local support financially and personally. "My business would not be what it is today without the support of our local community," said Amber Coffey-Rankin, owner of Lotus Naturals, a clean beauty company. "I love to connect with my customers on a personal level to find the perfect product for whatever they are looking for. Shopping local nurtures a sense of community and keeps me feeling passionate about my small business!"

Adam Mendel, a custom ukulele builder and owner of Joyner Instruments feels similarly. "When I get to build an instrument for a local customer it's extra special," said Mendel. "Getting to share their excitement and enthusiasm firsthand is revitalizing and rewarding in a way that's hard to get from a long-distance project." 

When you buy from a small business, an actual person does a little happy dance. I don't know who originally said that but it's more than a cute statement; it's the truth.

The economic impacts of shopping local
396,925 – number of small businesses in Oregon
893,758 – number of Oregonians employed by a small business
2 out of every 3 – number of new jobs created by small business
$20 billion – Amount consumers spend each year at small shops & restaurants
80% - Percent of Americans that make regular online purchases throughout the year
Source: Martin Golden, Small Business Administration's Portland District Director

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