The Beacon Hill Civic Association (BHCA) partnered with the Beacon Hill Business Association (BHBA) last Tuesday to co-sponsor a presentation at Hampshire House on the Shop Local movement, which promotes the hidden benefits of patronizing locally owned businesses and purchasing locally sourced goods.
Moxie owner Karen Fabbri moderated a panel discussion, including Blackstone’s of Beacon Hill owners Mark Duffield and Jennifer Hill; Chef Josh Levin of the Beacon Hill Hotel & Bistro; Juliana Lyman, general manager of Savenor’s Market; Paul Niski and Kate Brizius, owners of good; Rebecca Pimentel of the Sweet Georgia P’s, a Scituate-based purveyor of locally grown produce and other food items; and Barbara Scofidio, co-owner of noa jewelry, fine handcrafts & gifts.
“It’s a novelty to find items made locally and in the U.S.A.,” Scofidio said. “We’re looking for a return to back when things were way less complicated.”
Scofidio cited the “multiplier effect” – a popular notion that money spent at locally owned businesses generates a much greater return to the local economy than it does when expended at corporate chain stores or other absentee-owner establishments.
“When you spend money in the community, they also spend here,” Scofidio said of locally owned businesses.
From a health standpoint, Pimentel discussed the benefits of buying from Sweet Georgia P’s, which harvests its produce 24 hours before delivery, compared with national chains that often leave fruit and vegetables sitting in warehouses for extended periods of time.
“You’re paying for higher-quality food rather than the cost of fuel and transportation,” Pimentel said. “Not only are you helping out the local community, but you’re also helping yourself and the environment.”
As a testament to the camaraderie and good will between merchants in the neighborhood, Hill pointed to the BHBA Window Decorating Contest – an effort spearheaded by Blackstone’s several years ago that brought 36 participating stores together for a juried contest while raising money for cancer research through the Jimmy Fund.
“The idea was to establish the business community in general as a destination point,” Duffield added.
Niski cautioned against local businesses against becoming too provincial and advised his fellow merchants to also consider the needs of customers from outside the neighborhood.
“We are becoming a little too insular, so we have to look forward,” Niski said. “When people travel to the city, they’re looking [to purchase] something that’s classically Boston. So much of Charles Street is about the experience, and that’s why people come here to shop.”
In conclusion, Fabbri emphasized the personalized service that locally owned businesses offer patrons as opposed to their seemingly more detached counterparts.
“We have very different sensibilities when it comes to buying for our shops,” Fabbri said. “Give us a chance to serve your needs first because we’re going to reinvest in this community.”