Belmont indies? A way to support local businesses

Concord Indies Poster

Concord Indies Poster

I was in downtown Concord a couple weeks back and noticed posters and fliers all over the downtown promoting “Concord Indies” – independent, locally owned businesses in Concord’s historic downtown. Turns out the Concord Indies program is more than just a “support our local merchants” program.Its part of a larger program sponsored by the Independent Business Alliance. They have a Web site and some pretty clear guidelines about what kinds of businesses qualify as Concord Indies – they’ve got to have:

  • no more than 6 locations
  • a minimum of 50% of locations in MA or within 100 miles of Concord
  • a minimum of 50% of owners in MA or within 100 miles of Concord
  • headquarters in MA or within 100 miles of Concord
  • privately owned
  • an owner with full decision-making authority (name, signage, logo, appearance, product selection, salaries, etc.)
Concord Indies Flier

Concord Indies Flier

The message: “shop Concord indies first” – in other words: go to local merchants before you drop in to a chain store or national retailer who just happens to have pitched a tent in town. Fortunately, there are lots of these in Concord – locally owned clothes stores, restaurants, an independent book shop and more.

I’m not sure whether these kinds of programs actually work – that “buy American” thing never seemed to make much difference when it came to buying better-made cars from Japan. Still, I think an independent business alliance is a great way for local businesses to increase their visibility and pool resources. It’s also a great (and low-impact) way to focus shoppers’ attention on locally owned businesses. In a town, like Belmont, that’s losing quite a few small, locally owned businesses, only to see them replaced with banks and other chain stores, this seems like a good idea to try here as well. In fact, a Boston Globe article on the Indies program made a comparison, in a companion article, to Belmont, which fought unsuccessfully to keep the Barnes and Noble store after that chain’s corporate masters decided to pull out of  the Leonard Street location.

Worth a thought!