The Council’s Economic Recovery strategy (Resolution 31135, adopted in May, 2009) included calling for a ‘Buy Local’ campaign to help Seattle’s neighborhood business districts.  We know that local businesses are critical parts of our community, and that dollars spent locally stay in the local economy and generate more dollars and jobs as they circulate.

The Office of Economic Development (OED) took this recommendation and ran with it.  OED officially launched the project in November of 2010, in cooperation with five neighborhood organizations – Ballard Chamber of Commerce, Columbia City Business Association, MLK Business Association, Rainier Chamber of Commerce, and the West Seattle Junction Association.  The campaign is already receiving kudos, and we hope to expand it in 2011.

While ‘buy local’ is an appealing concept, OED staff believed that it might not be enough to be effective in changing consumer buying habits.  OED hired a marketing consultant and organized a workshop for local businesses and chambers to share their expertise about how ‘buy local’ can be made into an working concept that attracts customers.

Their conclusion was that there needed to be an additional element – something that added a consumer benefit to the ‘feel good’ idea of supporting neighborhood businesses, and that could be used to attract tourists and visitors as well.  The hook became ‘Only in Seattle’ – a media and publicity push on the unique attributes of each neighborhood.

The overarching Seattle message:

“here you won’t find – miles of strip malls, fast-food restaurants,  sterile department stores, and the same ol’ same ol’”

“here you will find –original, independently owned boutiques, cozy world-class cafes, charming urban villages of friendly, diverse people, and one-of-a-kind experiences.”

A neighborhood example:

“Ballard:  If you think Ballard is home only to the Locks and Scandinavian museums, you are overdue for a visit. Spending a day in Ballard is like visiting a village in Europe, where you will find a mix of stylish boutiques, first class restaurants, cozy cafés, and family-owned retailers. It’s the historic old meeting the sophisticated new, and the result is a memorable experience waiting to happen.”

Check out the website for more info, www.onlyinseattle.org  And visit your local businesses!