Alt-Papers Promote Local Shops as Holiday Gift-Giving ‘Alternatives’

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By: Mark Fitzgerald

More than 70 alternative newspapers are urging readers to spend at least $100 of their holiday gift-giving budget at locally owned stores in a national campaign the Association of Alternative Newsweeklies (AAN) says could pump more than $2.9 billion into recession-racked city economies.

The project was the brainchild of Jody Colley, publisher of the East Bay Express in Berkeley, Calif.

“If every one of the 17.5 million readers of these weeklies were to spend just $100 with local, independently owned merchants, the impact would be enormous,” Colley said.

AAN lined up 73 participating alt-weeklies for the project, which the Business Alliance for Local Living Economies (BALLE) and the American Independent Business Alliance (AMIBA) helped develop.

“This is an incredibly exciting and unprecedented effort by the press to reach out and work with the local economic development community,” Erin Kilmer-Neel, program officer at OneCalifornia Foundation, said in a statement. “In my mind, this can be a perfect partnership — local, independently-owned publications helping other local indie businesses in their community toward positive economic change.”

In Chicago, New City President Brian Hieggelke urged readers to patronize locally owned stores that keep more money in the community than chain retailers. “So if you value that creative little shop on your street, if you appreciate the friendly chats with the owner when you stop in, show your support by spending your holiday gift money local,” he wrote. The newspaper dedicated its annual “Twelve Gifts of Christmas” feature to locally owned retailers and designers.

Links to what other alternative newspapers are doing for the campaign are at E&P’s business-oriented Fitz & Jen blog.

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