The front of the poster shows Uncle Sam with his arms embracing a store owner and a shopper, superimposed over an outline of the state of Iowa and a drawing of Main Street. The back lists ten reasons to support independent businesses. Number one: Money spent at a local business stays in your community. Number seven: Shopping in town slows pressure to build strip malls on farmland and in natural areas.
The poster is part of a Buy Local campaign launched last fall by 1000 Friends of Iowa, a citizens group based in Des Moines that fights sprawl and works for strong downtowns.
The idea originated with Ed Fallon, a state legislator and Executive Director of 1000 Friends. In October, he made a personal commitment to shop only at locally owned stores between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Other members of the organization liked the idea and decided to create a public campaign to highlight the importance of supporting Main Street merchants.
A kickoff press conference was held the day before Thanksgiving. Two television stations, the Des Moines Register, and several smaller papers covered the campaign. Radio stations called for interviews.
Through a network of volunteers, 1000 Friends distributed the Uncle Sam posters to area businesses and prominent locations in Des Moines and several smaller communities. Soon calls were coming in from other merchants who wanted posters for their stores as well.
The response was so good, says Rose Winkler, coordinator of the campaign, that 1000 Friends has decided to continue it this year. The poster is already in its second printing. The group plans to meet with local business owners to discuss ways to expand the campaign.