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Welcome to the Sonoma County Gazette ARCHIVE of PAST EDITIONS. Our NEW WEBSITE is up and running, so GazExtra is serving as your path to archived articles. Thanks for being part of our Sonoma County community...stay in touch...e-mail me - VESTA

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Doing Business LOCALLY Benefits EVERYONE!

The reason I publish my annual Small Town Shopping Tour is to encourage people to shop locally - to support the people who are our neighbors who run businesses that serve our needs. It's personal. The article article below gets into the economic advantages of shopping locally. Once you understand that it costs LESS in the long run - benefits your home MORE in the long and short run, you see that shopping locally is more than just supporting our neighbors - it's supporting our local economy as well. Please learn the benefits outlined below. We'll have more as time goes on. - Vesta

A New Twist on Going Local
By Jay Beckwith
Sonoma County GoLocal Cooperative

More and more we hear how important it is to “shop local.” Most of us get that message and try to patronize our local shops as much as we can. But let’s face it, the allure of going to the big box store and getting so much stuff for what appears to be a lot less money is terribly attractive.

Certainly there are deals to be had at the corporate chains but several studies in the past couple of years have shown that it is often not true that their prices are always lower. And certainly we’ve all literally bought into the “buy in bulk and save” message and been lured into purchases that may not have worked out really well. But we have to face the fact that when there is too much disparity between the price at a big box store and your local shop you have to be very dedicated to resist the bargain. The real bottom line is: We have to find ways to help out local shops find efficiencies, economies of scale and other tools so that they can be more competitive.

To address this issue a collection of businesses, citizens and organizations have come together to launch the Sonoma County GoLocal Cooperative. The project is based on “Think Local First” promotions that have been successful in over fifty communities across the nation. Central to the campaign is creating wide recognition for the GoLocal symbol so it’s easy to identify locally owned businesses.

Many consumers prefer to do business with shops that have progressive values. On the campaign website,, members post their business profile which explains their values; what products they sell or use that are from Sonoma County; what they do to reduce their waste and their water and energy use. This makes it easy for shoppers to see which businesses are serious about reducing their impact on the planet.

Many local stores offer customer loyalty rewards. While these work for short term sales, they rarely provide a consistent incentive for long term patronage. Beginning in the first quarter of 2009, the GoLocal campaign will begin a program where such loyalty rewards are more consistently available and be can be used in any member store. Basically this gives our local businesses the same marketing clout that many corporate chains use to their advantage. When many local shops combine in a single program, the result can be every bit as powerful as what the big boys do.

There have been attempts at similar “local” programs over the years. Some, like “Select! Sonoma”, were very successful. GoLocal is based on the best of these examples and adds a new twist: its cooperative ownership and governance structure. For many people the word cooperative conjures hippy-dippy organic food groups. The fact is, most of us have contact with a cooperative every day. Shop at Ace Hardware or REI? Bank with a credit union? Buy Alvarado bread, almonds, or milk? If you have, then you’ve done business with a cooperative. Oh, and that hippy-dippy health food coop? Many of them are still around and doing millions of dollars in sales. Being a cooperative brings a robust business structure to the GoLocal campaign that means we don’t have to rely solely on volunteerism and can engage in a wide variety of profit making ventures. All of which benefit the members, the citizens businesses and organizations here in Sonoma County.

Finally, the GoLocal cooperative is not just a business marketing or a consumer’s buying group. Also members are organizations that provide environmental and economic educational programming. Profits generated by GoLocal are shared with these GoLocal allied groups. The GoLocal goal is to include everyone in the county, not just those who already “get it”. Our allied groups help us spread the word, and we help them reach a wider audience.

To find out more about the campaign go to or call 707-820-4214.

Readers - this is a wonderful chart on the benefits of doing business locally - too small to see here! Please go the the website above - and see it also published on the back cover of the November 18th edition of WCG - thanks - Vesta

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