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‘Unwrap Chicago’ promotes local holiday shopping

Backed by hundreds of locally-owned small business, Unwrap Chicago is urging Chicagoans to pledge to shift $100 of their holiday shopping to neighborhood businesses and has launched a blog featuring 50 businesses in 50 wards.

City Treasurer Stephanie Neely is hosting a press conference to kick off the campaign on Tuesday, November 20 at 10 a.m. on the 2nd floor of City Hall.

She’ll be joined by Suzanne Keers of Local First Chicago, the small business coalition that sponsors Unwrap Chicago, along with Omar Duque of the Illinois Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and Ald. Harry Osterman, cosponsor of a resolution declaring Buy Local Week in Chicago starting Friday, November 23.

Boost city economy

If every family shifted $100 of their holiday shopping to local businesses, it would inject $25 million into the city’s economy, Keers said.

Local businesses recirculate 70 percent more of their revenues back into the local economy, purchasing local goods and services and supporting local charities at much higher rates, studies have shown.

“I know that small business is the engine driving our economic recovery,” Neely said. “This is a way for residents to promote local prosperity while enjoying unique products and personalized service.”

A grassroots promotional campaign that began in 2005 in four neighborhoods now directly involves over 500 small businesses in every community in the city, Keers said.

Awareness growing

It makes a difference, too: a survey by the Institute for Local Self-Reliance of 1,768 independent, locally-owned businesses in 49 states showed that revenue growth for small businesses last year was nearly three times higher in communities with active “buy local” campaigns.  Locally-owned businesses reported holiday sales rates that were 50 percent higher than the retail industry overall.

Business owners surveyed reported a growing awareness among consumers of the value of locally-owned businesses.

“Buy local” campaigns brought in new customers, increased media coverage of independent businesses, made city officials more supportive of independent businesses, and led to greater collaboration among local businesses, ILSR reported.

New this year is an Unwrap Chicago blog with features on local businesses in every ward of the city.  Recent posts range from Blue City Cycles in Bridgeport to Al Khyam Bakery and Grocery in Albany Park, which now anchors a string of Middle Eastern shops along Kedzie; from Donna’s Garden Florist in Sauganash to Cakewalk Chicago in Beverly.

“We’re aiming at creating new holiday traditions that are around your neighbors and your neighborhood, that involve shopping and eating and drinking locally,” Keers said.

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Category: retail

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