Locally owned businesses across Michigan – including many in Traverse City -- hope to catch you “blue handed” shopping at their stores on Saturday, October 5th. That’s the theme of “Get Caught Blue-Handed” day, part of a year-round campaign sponsored by the Michigan Retailers Association (MRA), to encourage people to “Buy Nearby.”
“The phrase is a twist on ‘getting caught red-handed,’” explains Katie Moffit from the MRA. “The idea is to ‘catch’ shoppers buying locally.”
The day was chosen to coincide with a busy fall foliage and winery tourism weekend. But while it’s only one day, the MRA plans to promote the “Buy Nearby” theme year-round. Organizers say between 43 and 68 percent of every dollar spent at a local store stays in Michigan.
“The idea is to bring a ‘Pure Michigan’ feel to shopping,” Moffit says. “We intend ‘Buy Nearby’ to be a symbol of pride and celebration, a personal call to action and an economic driver for our state.”
Bill Golden, of Golden Shoes on Front Street, is a member of MRA’s service board. He’s been working on the “Buy Nearby” campaign for months, and says it’s designed to help all local stores, not just “Mom and Pops” that are the focus of the better-known “Small Business Saturday” sales after Thanksgiving.
“Local shoppers are the backbone of my business,” he says. “It’s so easy to shop on the phone or a tablet. That’s my competition. But there’s something about local customer service.”
Golden is also planning on offering special promotions, including gift card giveaways, to hopefully catch people “blue handed” on October 5th.
Phil Anderson, owner of Diversions Hat Store, also on Front Street, is also excited by the prospect of “Buy Nearby” promotions. Since his business markets to both local residents and tourists, he says it will help promote his business year-round.
“Anytime you can gather the energies of lots of different businesses, it helps out,” he says.
But it’s not just local businesses that are looking forward to the “Buy Nearby” campaign. Rob Bacigalupi of the Traverse City DDA says shopping locally is one of the best ways to ensure TC remains a strong community.
“All but seven of the 175 or so downtown stores and restaurants are locally owned,” he explains, adding that “local stores employ more locals per dollar spent then the national chains, and spend more locally on charities.”
The MRA says all businesses can take part, not just MRA members. To help spread the word, it’s set up a website and is encouraging people to use social media to brag to friends about how they shop locally, and show off their “blue hands.”