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Home / Articles / News / Local News /  Indicators: July 15

Indicators: July 15

Local-Washing?

July 15, 2009, 12:00 am

530     was the approximate number of entries to Santa Fe’s “Million-Dollar Buy In,” including repeat entries from the same people.

"Offering local produce has been a [Walmart] priority for years…"—Walmart Senior Vice President Pam Kohn in a company press release

Last March, Santa Fe government, business and media leaders got together to launch a pro-shopping campaign called “Buy Into It!” The hope was the program would help Santa Fe businesses survive the recession through a generalized advertising effort.

From the beginning, campaign organizers disagreed over what it meant to “shop local.” Santa Fe Chamber of Commerce President Simon Brackley basically won the argument, and the campaign decreed that any business located in Santa Fe was “local”—even national chain stores like Walmart or Target.

Santa Fe Alliance Executive Director Vicki Pozzebon has a more restrictive definition of local, but went along anyway. Now she calls it corporate “local-washing.”

“At first it sounded like a really good idea,” Pozzebon says. “I think it confused our buy-local-first message and what a dollar spent here actually means in the community.”

Pozzebon says shopping at independent locally owned stores keeps far more money in Santa Fe—whereas shopping at national chains is “like strip-mining a community. The profits they make go directly back to their headquarters.”
When campaign organizers—including SFR Publisher Andy Dudzik—reconvene in the fall, Pozzebon does not expect to participate.

As of July 10—the last day of several Buy Into It competitions—campaign organizers had 42 followers on Twitter, 36 friends on MySpace, six followers on Flickr and 352 friends on Facebook. The “Million-Dollar Buy In,” which asked Santa Feans to email the contents of their shopping receipts, was halfway to its goal when last checked on July 13.

“It’s pretty hard to get people to write in and say, ‘Yeah, I bought into it,’” Hutton Broadcasting owner Scott Hutton says. “Did you do that? I didn’t do it either—and I was part of the program.”

Economic Development Division Specialist Kate Noble says those numbers don’t fully measure the campaign’s success. “I think a better measure is a straw poll, where I go through my day and it gets mentioned by a wide swatch of people, unprompted,” Noble says.

Noble says the campaign has gotten a good response from its T-shirts, which read “I’m stimulating” on the front. “It’s meant to be a little bit provocative,” Noble says. “I run in one.”

 

 

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