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Occupy Main Street: Small Businesses Urge Local Shopping


Forget about Occupy Wall Street. Small business organizations across the country want to occupy Main Street and have united to encourage local residents and businesses to shift their shopping and buy from local independent businesses this holiday season. The name of the initiative is "Shift Your Shopping."

The "Shift" campaign, which represents more than 38,000 locally owned and independent businesses across the U.S. and Canada, is designed to boost the economy and preserve and create jobs in local communities.

Americans do a large portion of their annual retail shopping between Nov. 1 and Dec. 31 — about $700 per shopper, according to the National Retail Federation. Numerous studies show that if those dollars are shifted to locally owned, independent businesses, they'll generate far more economic benefits in local communities than money spent at local chain outlets or businesses outside the community, the movement's organizers said.

For example, a 2008 study of Kent County Michigan by Civic Economics projected that shifting 10 percent of the county's per capita spending from chains to locally owned independent businesses would create "almost $140 million in new economic activity and 1,600 new jobs for the region."

Shift Your Shopping combines the efforts of the American Independent Business Alliance (AMIBA) and the Business Alliance for Local Living Economies (BALLE) with more than 150 local business alliances.

“Shift Your Shopping promotes the united vision and voice of thousands of real people in real communities across the U.S. and Canada committed to building strong local economies,” said Michelle Long, BALLE executive director.

Shift Your Shopping is also about celebrating the uniqueness of local communities, said Jennifer Rockne, director of AMIBA.

"By shifting the focus of holiday shopping to locally owned, independent businesses, we can strengthen our communities and economy, create more jobs and — equally important — we  can enjoy more relaxed and rewarding experiences doing holiday shopping," she said.