Santa Monica Lookout
Santa Monica Prepares for Fourth Annual Buy Local Expo
By Jason Islas
September 13, 2013 -- When residents of the bayside town shop in Santa Monica, it helps schools, reduces traffic and can even increase well-being.
That's the message officials hope to convey to the crowds at Santa Monica's fourth annual Buy Local Expo on the Third Street Promenade on Saturday September 21.
Buying local “helps sustain the local economy and it's a sustainable way to live,” said Mayor Pam O'Connor.
Aside from generating sales tax -- which ends up in the City's General Fund -- and cutting back on lengthy car trips, it's also a chance for people to get to know their neighbors, many of whom own and operate businesses in Santa Monica, O'Connor said.
Laurel Rosen, president of the Santa Monica Chamber of Commerce, agrees.
“It's a win-win for everybody,” she said.
The Buy Local Expo started as a more traditional business-to-business expo where local businesses could network and engage each other, Rosen said.
But, it soon became clear “we needed to bring the buy local message out to the community,” she said.
That message is “a call to action” to shop locally, Rosen said.
And that's quite possible in Santa Monica, which has a wide range of shops and services and Santa Monica, she added.
“Most things we can buy locally,” said O'Connor. “There are many unique businesses in Santa Monica.”
About 60 of those businesses will be touting their wares at the Expo on September 21 and that number is still growing. Businesses who want to exhibit can find out how at the Chamber's website.
There will be raffles, entertainment, special deals and other perks for those who find their way to the Promenade.
This year, the Chamber is teaming up with Farmers Market to offer a new attraction: an all-day culinary stage.
Rosen said that the stage will will feature an "Eat Local Chef Showcase," during which chefs from local restaurants will face the challenge of making dishes with ingredients donated by the Santa Monica Farmers Market.
And, through social media networks, the audience will get to weigh-in on the chefs' final products.
Assemblymember Richard Bloom, who helped instigate Buy Local Day when he was mayor, will be in attendance, Rosen said.
As mayor, Bloom presided over the official ceremony declaring Buy Local Day in Santa Monica and now, as a State Assemblymember, he will preside over the declaration of Buy Local Week on September 21.
His presence, said O'Connor, shows that the State recognizes the importance of supporting local economies that, in concert, make up the power behind Southern California's strong regional economy.
Santa Monica is a leader in the Buy Local initiative, Rosen said, adding that many local communities are looking to the bayside city's efforts as they search for ways to help shore up their businesses.
While O'Connor recognizes the economic benefit to the Buy Local campaign -- which boasts about 600 supporters in the business community -- she said that there are other, less quantifiable benefits.
The person-to-person contact that comes with shopping locally, she said, “is what really builds community and supports well-being.”
For more information about Santa Monica's Buy Local campaign, visit buylocalsantamonica.com.
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