Scarborough Buy Local campaign nears 200 members

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SCARBOROUGH — Dozens of people turned out for the Scarborough Buy Local kick-off event Tuesday evening. The new campaign aims to encourage consumers to purchase goods and services from locally owned businesses, and help create connections between those businesses.

“We wanted to put a bunch of entrepreneurial types in a room and see what they come up with,” Scarborough Buy Local creator Karen D’Andrea said.

Other towns in the area have also recently introduced Buy Local campaigns, but D’Andrea said the Scarborough campaign has a bit of a head start.

“We already have over 100 members. We expect to be close to 200 by the end of this month,” she said.

The program will help locally owned businesses brand themselves as a group, with a recognizable label and business directory for consumers to refer to.

“That way people know that they’re purchasing from a local, independent business,” D’Andrea said.

She cited national research that found for every $100 spent at locally owned businesses, $44 remains in the local economy. For nationally owned businesses, the amount that remains in the local economy is closer to $14. Similar studies have also found that in local markets where there is a Buy Local campaign, businesses tend to do 1 to 2 percent better than those without the campaigns.

“It can be a real lifeline and safety net for people,” D’Andrea said.

The campaign may have had its first event Tuesday, but the nine-member board of directors has been working behind the scenes for more than a year to get the nonprofit up and running.

In May 2009, they held a small business town hall and resource fair at the library that attracted more than 60 people and filled the room beyond capacity. The board began meeting weekly last July, and by Christmas had solicited more than 80 members.

“We have a board of directors that has a ton of energy,” D’Andrea said.

She said the board is now made up entirely of business owners, but that they would like to see it rounded out by a few individual, non-owner members as well.

Businesses can join the campaign for $50 per year. In order to qualify, businesses must be in Scarborough and the owner must live within a 75-mile radius of the town. Franchises can qualify if they are independently owned and the owner is able to make all the decisions for the business, including where to purchase supplies.

Individual memberships are $35 per year, which includes a consumer card that entitles the member to a variety of deals at many of the Scarborough Buy Local businesses. Non-profits can join for $25 per year. D’Andrea said the rates may change in the near future when more of the benefits, such as a search engine on the Web site, are added.

Emily Parkhurst can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 125 or