Ann Arbor Area Community News
LEN has launched a new, much shinier website in time for Buy Local Day (this Saturday):
The over fifty local businesses that are part of the Living Economy Network have declared December 3rd Buy Local Day. They know that when locally-owned independent businesses do well, the community benefits from an increase in the money that stays circulating in the community, and an increase in nonprofit support. During the upcoming holiday season, LEN would like to encourage our community to support these businesses, and has released a directory of locally-owned businesses to make it easier to do so. This directory contains business listings, information about the benefits of supporting locally-owned businesses, and profiles of businesses and organizations that exemplify LEN’s Seven Reasons to Think Local First. Some participating businesses include Arbor Brewing Company, People’s Food Co-op, Shaman Drum Bookshop, and Kerrytown Market & Shops. See our website at www.ThinkLocalFirst.net for more information and a list of participating businesses.
EDIT: relatedly, retail consultant Robert Gibbs gave a lecture at the AADL on Tuesday, 29 November, addressing topics like Ann Arbor’s advantageous position in the retail market – we are about to be targeted by a very large amount of retail development, he says, retail development that would prefer to locate downtown, but will build malls in the townships if we block it out of downtown. Ann Arbor, he says, has the ability to push and pull this incoming development around and shape it how we want it to a significant extent, but we can’t stop it from coming.
Much of his talk was in a fairly open question-and-answer format – he was asked to talk about parking (important), about appropriate open spaces for downtown areas (smaller is better), about the role of affordable housing downtown in the success of local businesses (beneficial), about the ways that large anchor retailers can benefit the small local retailers around them (spillover business from new downtown shoppers), and about the need for Ann Arbor to actively market itself to retailers, in order to ensure that the ones we get are the ones we want most, and not the default that comes if we do nothing.
The prime quote of the evening came when he was asked just how much of a region’s retail activity might be located downtown. He reiterated that he’s not all that familiar with Ann Arbor’s specific desires, but that “some cities decide they want to bring all the retailers downtown and eliminate suburban strips entirely – other cities say, ‘We just want to buy kites and scented candles downtown; for anything we need, we’ll go out to the mall.’”
I recorded the lecture on my iPod – please excuse the occasional whine audible as the iPod spins up its hard drive – and we’ve uploaded it as a 90 minutes, 20MB mp3: Robert Gibbs at AADL, 29 November 2005.
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