We recently had the opportunity to connect with Amy Robinson, Founder of LOCO BC, an organization committed to educating local businesses, consumers and government about the benefits and advantages of supporting local across all industries. LOCO is a fantastic organization with a mandate complimentary to ours. Enjoy this interview with Amy!
BLEN: Amy, tell us about how LOCO got started?
AR: I founded LOCO because I felt like there was a lot of momentum around the local eating movement but when it came to other industries, the dialogue around sustainability was mostly about green; there wasn’t a lot of discussion around local ownership. I realized that this is a grey area for many people, who wonder, for example, if it matters economically and environmentally, if we buy products from a local boutique or from Wal-Mart. So, I saw a need to educate consumers, businesses and government about the impacts of their purchases and through LOCO, have created programming tailored to each of these key audiences. For example, our Consumer Education program promotes individual local businesses via wrap-around messages on why local businesses are important and the direct economic and environmental impacts of spending your dollars at locally owned shops. For our business audience, we educate about the importance of buying local supplies, providing ‘sustainable-based’ business model guidelines and practical resources, such as a list of the most cost-effective local suppliers and sources.
BLEN: Can you tell us a bit about your personal motivation for getting involved in the buy local movement?
AR: I’d been involved in the sustainability movement for years, participating in groups such as the Business Alliance for Local Living Economy. On the personal side, my motivation for founding LOCO stemmed from witnessing ‘green washing’ hypocrisy from big businesses and I wanted to do something for the future of the planet. I felt the best place to start was with small businesses, as they are the economic engines of our society and also the biggest source of job creation. I decided to start a consulting practice, to provide practical guidance to businesses and consumers in my community. My model was based on the fact that you have to really understand a business in order to ask them to make any operational changes that might not have a pay back for a couple years.
BLEN: Can you tell us a bit about some of the businesses you’ve seen who have adopted a ‘local’ approach and remain economically successful?
AR: Yes, there are many! One of my favourites is the Saul Good Gift Co., which specializes in gifts. Through reducing all waste, and using 100% BC- sourced products, they’ve enjoyed great economic success while adhering to a local model of business ethics. Another great example is River Market in New West, which has evolved into a successful shopping mall made of entirely local, independent, one-of-a-kind stores. And one of my all-time favourites is Bed, which has been manufacturing and retailing linens, sheets, pillowcases, and comforters from their kits store since 1999!
Thanks Amy! It was great connecting with you. We’ll leave you here with LOCO’s top reasons for buying local:
Why Buy Local?
It Reduces Impact
It Builds Prosperity
It Creates Employment
It Builds Character
It Sparks Innovation
What Can You Do?
Commit to shifting 10% of your household spending from foreign to local products, and from chains to locally owned businesses. You’ll create a huge economic impact, support local labour and environmental standards, reduce the climate change impacts of big supply chains and support local jobs. Best of all you’ll get to know your neighbours!