Fairfield kicks off ‘Buy Local’ initiative
FAIRFIELD — As Amazon announced its second headquarters in nearby New York City, Fairfield businesses are reminding consumers about the benefits of shopping locally.
Namely, that they are investing in their own community.
“This involves many aspects of our economy and our town,” First Selectman Mike Tetreau said. “Small businesses are the backbone of our community and we already have days like Small Business Saturday, Sidewalk Sales and Holiday Shop Strolls.”
Tetreau was joined by Community and Economic Development Director Mark Barnhart, Chamber of Commerce President Beverly Balaz — organizations active in this new effort — and several business owners in town at Town Hall on Tuesday to discuss the initiative.
Barnhart explained the Buy Local initiative would be about bridging the gap between the local businesses and residents.
“We have been working on this for many years,” Barnhart said. “We’re working on making this a year-round campaign and educate the consumer.”
The elephant in the room was the ever-increasing presence of online retailers like Amazon that have supplanted the business model in the last decade, not to mention increases in rent prices that hurt local shops.
“This is about trying to change consumer trends and showing people what being local is all about,” Marc Rosenblum, co-owner of HobbyTown, said after the conference. “Amazon is trying to destroy as much competition as they can, and we want to do much as we can for the community.”
Rosenblum said local organizations like the parent teachers associations of various schools visit his store for donations and that he happily participates every year.
“We want to donate and give back to the community,” Rosenblum said. “But consumers have to help us.”
The town is promoting the initiative on its website, highlighting the benefits of supporting local businesses, such as re-investing in the community and bolstering the economic presence that is shaped at a local and not national scale.
Maureen Abrahamson, also known as Mo from Mo’s Wine and Spirits, said even her business feels pressure from online retailers, but the shop’s history and established presence in the community is something they are capitalizing on.
“Our staff, prices and selection is something that our customers like,” Abrahamson said. “People like the whole thing about from the farm to the table.”
Though the concern is primarily economic, for some this initiative is also about maintaining the town’s downtown aesthetic and entrepreneurial character.
“If we want to preserve our vibrant downtown, we have to show how important local businesses are,” Barnhart said.