Communities around the country are celebrating the second annual Independents Week, which got underway on Friday, July 1st.
Organized by the American Independent Business Alliance (AMIBA) and its sixteen local affiliates, the week-long celebration draws on the July 4th holiday to remind people of the value of locally owned businesses. “It’s a time to highlight the importance of economic democracy and community self-determination,” said AMIBA director Jennifer Rockne.
This year, several cities and state governors issued proclamations in support of Independents Week. “The health of Nevada?s economy, in large measure depends on our support of businesses owned by our friends and neighbors,” declared a proclamation issued by Nevada Governor Kenny Guinn, at the urging of the Reno-based Conscious Community and Business Network.
While AMIBA coordinates national media and outreach, individual businesses and participating communities celebrate the week in different ways.
The Austin Independent Business Alliance kicked off the week with a reading and book-signing by Naomi Shihab Nye, whose new youth novel, Going, Going, is about a teenage girl determined to preserve her hometown’s local businesses.
In Louisville, Kentucky, residents are on the lookout for “Keep Louisville Weird” signs hanging in the windows of local businesses. The signs indicate stores offering special discounts and giveaways all week.
In Santa Fe, New Mexico, residents spotted sporting “Keep Santa Fe Different” bumper stickers during the week are eligible for prizes donated by local stores and restaurants. To launch the week, more than 50 businesses set up booths for a “Locals on the Plaza” party.
Meanwhile, in Albuquerque, seven of nine city councilors have agreed to take the Independents Week Challenge, sponsored by the Albuquerque Independent Business Alliance. The councilor who does the largest percentage of their weekly spending at locally owned businesses will win a freezer and a year’s supply of green chilies from family-owned Bueno Foods.
In Pikes Peak, Colorado, the Pikes Peak Independent Business Alliance is giving out wooden nickels printed with the group’s logo that urge residents to shop locally owned. The nickels can be redeemed for various freebies and discounts, such as a free pint at Blick’s Brewing or $2 off a CD at Independent Records & Video.
Build St. Louis celebrated with a day-long event featuring more than 50 booths showcasing local businesses, live music, activities for kids, and a screening of Smith Hardware: Help Is Just Around The Corner, a documentary of the 2003 closing of a 75-year-old local hardware store.
The idea for Independents Week was conceived four years ago when Inkwood Books in Tampa, Florida, discounted 76 books (as in 1776) during the week of July 4th. The following year other local businesses joined Inkwood and Independents Week became an annual event. Posters call on the community to “celebrate our nation’s independence [by] celebrating your independents.”
AMIBA took the celebration national last year. Independents Week is also endorsed and supported by the Institute for Local Self-Reliance’s New Rules Project, the American Specialty Toy Retail Association (ASTRA), the American Booksellers Association (ABA), the Association of Retail Travel Agents (ARTA), the Council of Independent Restaurants of America (CIRA), the National Main Streets Center, and the Virginia Main Streets Program.