Above: From left, Asher Schofield of Frog & Toad, Sue Budlong of Dave’s Fresh Marketplace, David Cicilline of the R.I. Foundation, and Kristen Adamo of the Providence Warwick Convention & Visitors Bureau at Dave’s in East Greenwich Tuesday to kick off the Buy Local RI campaign.
Two days before Thanksgiving might seem like a crazy time to set up a press conference at a bustling Dave’s Fresh Marketplace in East Greenwich. But that was kind of the point for the organizers behind the Buy Local RI campaign kicking off just in time for the holiday shopping season.
“Patronizing local shops and restaurants has the potential to pay off in a big way,” said David Cicilline, former U.S. Representative and now president and CEO of the Rhode Island Foundation. “The return can be spectacular as the cash circulates through our economy. As these companies prosper, they will grow and put people to work.”
He noted results of a study from research conducted by the RI Foundation finding that Rhode Islanders could add $373 million to the state’s economy just by shifting 10 percent of purchases from national chains to independent, locally owned businesses. And that 57 percent of money spent locally stays in the state’s economy compared to the 13.6 percent at national chains.
And, local businesses put money directly back in their communities, he said, through their support of school events, sports teams, and local nonprofits.
The Rhode Island Foundation launched Buy Local RI a few years ago and now the campaign will be managed by the Providence Warwick Visitors & Convention Bureau, and supported by Dave’s and BankNewport.
Asher Schofield, co-owner of Providence gift shop Frog & Toad, also spoke about the benefits of supporting local businesses, recounting what he saw when he stepped in to help out at his mother’s small business in Keene, N.H.
“I learned a lot about the importance of that relationship between the locally owned business and the consumer a couple of years ago when my mother fell ill and I needed to step in and run her flower shop for her,” he said. “… the one commonality [with her business and mine] was the relationship with the customer and the business. Businesses are going to be with that customer through all the major events of their lives … a birth, a graduation, an engagement, a marriage, or at some point down the road, maybe even a funeral … you’re going to go to connect with that person in the community at their counter – often the owner – to mark that event in your life. A small business is with you through…. It’s part of our community, it’s part of our culture.”