Study finds that shopping near you is better for you

In May 2007, Civil Economics, an economics research company specialized in sustainable prosperity has issued a research note titled San Francisco Retail Diversity Study (Full Study
Executive Summary
Talking Points).

The main conclusion of the study is that

A 10% shift in consumer spending, from chains and internet to locally owned retail, would create nearly 1300 new jobs and over $190 million in increased economic output for San Francisco. Consumers don’t have to spend more, just spend differently.

Guillaume here: something not mentioned in the analysis is that more jobs and more economic output in a specific geography where you own a house means that your house increases in value (or keeps its value or decreases relatively less). In other words, by collectively chasing deals online and saving $100 in Christmas gifts, a neighborhood may be actually be contributing to a decrease in their wealth. It would be nice if the money system was making this link more obvious.

Anyway, it seems that Association of Alternative Newsweeklies heard about this study and launched a national campaign that

urges their readers to spend at least $100 of their holiday money this fall at locally owned stores in their communities – a move that could pump more than $2.9 billion into urban economies during this recession-plagued season.

(full press release).

In the Portrero neighborhood of San Francisco, local merchants have adapted the campaign into a drawing of lots for a prize whereby people can “buy” tickets for the chance to win gift certificates from local merchants by sending an email with a pledge to spend $100 locally.

Here is an example of the emails circulating.

The Potrero merchants are running a promotion, giving away $1000 worth of
gift certificates to locally-owned, independent businesses. The drawing is
this Thursday; all you have to do to enter to win is to pledge that $100 of
your holiday spending stays here in the neighborhood, with locally-owned

Send an email saying “I pledge” to and you are
entered into the drawing. Someone will win $500 worth of goods and
services, and thanks to local merchants, there will be two 2nd prizes: $250
worth of goods and services.

So… think about redirecting just $100 that you might have spent at, or Macy’s, or on Starbucks gift cards. And help the local
economy — find out more at

And please — forward this to others you know who live and work in Potrero
and Dogpatch. OK sure, it will slightly reduce your chances of winning the
drawing, but it’s great for people to learn more about our local

Portrero Buy Local campaign

Guillaume here: I think this is a great step towards local community currencies. I think I would have liked the Portrero Merchant association to go a step further and let merchants issue merchant branded “Portrero Bucks” that merchants would have sold for real US dollars, with say $100 “Portrero Bucks” for $90 U.S. dollars. These would have acted as a guarantee for the pledge, and would have been a first step towards the creation of an actual community currency.