November 16, 2012 by Sarah M
// By Leah Smith, Murphy News Service //
The Metro Independent Business Alliance kicks off its holiday shopping campaign Monday, Nov. 19, in hopes of driving Twin Cities shoppers to locally owned retailers.
The alliance will be promoting its Buy Local Holiday Gift Guide at the Karma Boutique in Victoria’s Crossing. Guest speakers will include U.S. Rep. Betty McCollum and St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman.
This is the third year that MetroIBA has done the Local Holiday Gift Guide. Mary Hamel, MetroIBA’s executive director, said surveys show there has been an increase in sales over the past three seasons at local businesses, especially compared to counties that do not run the campaign.
MetroIBA has more than 200 members. A couple dozen volunteered to be a part of the Holiday Gift Guide, said Hamel. These retailers each identify an item in their store to put on the list.
“The gift list drives traffic to our website and to our retailers,” Hamel said.
Jeff Warner, former president of MetroIBA and president of appliance retailer Warners’ Stellian, has been a part of this campaign for three years.
Warner said he is passionate about the campaign because he believes it is very important for the community to have local businesses. Strong, viable, local businesses make a stronger community, he said.
“I want to make the point, however, that I don’t think that we, as local businesses, are entitled to anything. We want to compete for and earn what we have,” Warner said.
“I grew up in the city and I love it. We grow with each person that walks through the door,” Warner said.
Another MetroIBA member, the Linden Hills Co-op in Minneapolis, is also participating in the holiday campaign by putting its locally manufactured T-shirts on the gift list.
“These T-shirts are special because they were cut, designed, and locally manufactured which is rare in the U.S.,” Allie Mentzer, marketing and member services coordinator at Linden Hills Co-op, said.
Linden Hills Co-op has been a MetroIBA member for seven years, Mentzer said. Its primary goal is to provide food and other products from local sources.
“I believe this helps the economy because we take food from local agricultural sources and then distribute those sources to our neighbors in the community,” Mentzer said.
The locally-owned Bibelot Shops in the Twin Cities also recognize the value.
“We have customers that come in asking only for ‘Minnesota-made’ gifts. They are keenly aware of how this positively affects the local economy,” Sarah Franklin, marketing manager for the Bibelot Shops in the Twin Cities, said.
The Bibelot Shop has been a member of the MetroIBA for three years and has participated in the holiday gift guide for two of those years, Franklin said.
“The holiday gift guide is an excellent online resource that is easily accessible for individuals to obtain unique and locally-made gifts. This is a win-win situation,” Franklin said. “One purchase at a locally owned business supports local labor and supports local providers such as banks, printers or accountants. Additionally, [it] supports the artisans themselves and their workforce. This provides opportunity and keeps the money local. That is a good thing.”
The Buy Local Gift Guide can be food at buylocaltwincities.com/giftguide.
Leah Smith is studying journalism at the University of Minnesota.