Buying Local in Portland, Maine: 688 Reasons to Do So
My favorite statistic from the Buy Local movement is that 75% more money stays in the local economy when you buy local. It makes sense. A dollar spent at Bard, Tandem, Yordprom, or any other locally-owned coffee shop will only travel as far as the owner’s pocket whereas a dollar spent at Starbucks travels across the country to corporate headquarters, where it is then dispersed among employees and ultimately shareholders.
Join Summer Feet Cycling & Walking as we look at some of the many benefits of investing in your local community. And if you’re in the Portland, Maine area or happen to be stopping by on vacation, why not check out our selection of Portland Bicycle Day Trips, tours designed to showcase the best that our town and surrounding landscapes have to offer.
Why Shopping Local is Important in Portland
Portland is many things, including a robust tourist town. In 2015, 5.5 million people visited Portland, creating an economic impact of $688 million. Portland is also a town with an award-winning food scene. The reality is that a tiny town of 66,000 people can’t support Portland’s restaurants. We need the tourists.
People travel for various reasons, but one thing that unites all travelers is the desire for a unique experience. From a sampling of oysters at Eventide to the thrill of getting your picture taken with Mickey Mouse and everything in between, experiences create memories.
The Maine Office of Tourism has done a wonderful job of identifying the profiles of the most common visitors to Maine and has focused its marketing efforts on the three largest groups: balanced achievers, genuine originals, and social sophisticates. All come to Maine seeking experiences that support their values and desires. Genuine originals value outdoor recreation; social sophisticates value excellent accommodations; balanced achievers value checking things off their bucket lists.
Yet among these three distinct groups of travelers, the one thing that unites them is their desire to connect with what is local and unique. If you ask people what their most poignant vacation memories are, I doubt many will say the awesome Baby GAP store.
The Environmental Benefits of Shopping Locally
With more and more people working to reduce their impact on the natural world, the benefits of investing in local businesses cannot be overstated. By making the choice to eat out and shop locally, consumers reduce their carbon emissions by around 26%.
Yes, deciding to spend your money in a store in your own neighborhood or hometown rather than heading to an out-of-town mall or ordering goods online means less need for driving. By shopping locally you may be able to cut out transport altogether and walk to town or take your bike.
And by opting not to always rely on online shopping, you ensure you aren’t feeding an industry that ships and flys goods across the country, even across the globe! Your local shop is also unlikely to hand you your purchase in excessively large, wasteful packaging.
Find the Freshest Food at Your Local Market
As we’ve discussed on our blog before, Portland has a special food scene. Portland is jammed with cafes and restaurants of all kinds. Whether you’re thirsting for a locally produced craft beer, in need of a caffeine fix, craving comfort food, or looking for something truly innovative, Portland has it.
And the one thing that all of Portland’s best eateries share in common? Almost everything gets sourced locally. The lobster in your lobster roll probably came in off a boat that morning; your craft beer has been lovingly brewed by a team of local enthusiasts; when you pick a veggie option for your main, you’re almost definitely eating greens grown locally.
This isn’t just better for your local economy and community, it’s better for you. Sure, we all need to visit the supermarket from time to time. But nothing beats a trip to a local market for finding the freshest, most nourishing ingredients.
Being able to pick up recently harvested fruit and vegetables at the Rosemont Market and Bakery, or fresh seafood at the Harbor Fish Market is an absolute joy and it’s the reason why the food when dining out in Portland is almost never less than delicious.
Supporting Your Neighbors
We are fortunate to live in an amazing place, with great natural beauty, an abundance of locally-sourced food, and a strong and friendly community. Where you buy your morning coffee goes beyond feeling good, it helps sustain the unique community that draws the tourists, who bring $688 million a year to Portland.
This is money that, among other things, allows our food and beer scene to thrive and attracts the wonderful mix of people of diverse skills, races, and beliefs who have lived and traveled all over the world and yet choose to make Portland their home.
If you have any comments or questions about this blog or our tours and services, please get in touch.