Making the "Made Local" Trend a Movement in California

By Nancy Mann Jackson on March 21, 2014 at 11:00 am EST
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PHOTO CREDIT: Photo by Matt Carmichael

When customers shop at the Made Local Marketplace in Santa Rosa, Calif., they can access a variety of items made by local artisans and producers while boosting the local economy. The store, located in downtown Santa Rosa, features the products of more than 350 local vendors and capitalizes on the current trend of buying local. But Made Local Marketplace is more than a store; it's part of a movement to encourage people to use and purchase locally sourced goods.

It would have been "close to impossible" for the vendors who sell their wares at Made Local Marketplace to open up their own shops, says Kelley Rajala, who founded the market in 2010 to create a one-stop shop for locally made crafts, “but collectively, we made it happen.”

"People tell us that it is 'thrilling' to shop at the Made Local Marketplace," Rajala says. "Every time a customer returns, they always find new items by our talented local artists, makers, crafters and producers. We pride ourselves on having a wide variety of products, from practical everyday household items to locally grown food to beautiful and unique gifts."

The Products

Among the most popular sellers at the Made Local Marketplace are natural health and beauty products such as shea butter soap, lotions and aromatherapy. The shop also sells children's items like handmade hats, clothing, Waldorf dolls and felted pocket pets. 

Household items including laundry soap, dish towels, pottery, local seeds and plant-dyed beeswax candles are always in demand. And local food items like honey, granola and farm-fresh eggs keep customers coming back for more, Rajala says. 

By purchasing local goods, Santa Rosa residents and visitors are taking advantage of the opportunity to access fresh items with clear knowledge of their origins.

"When you support local producers and retailers, you are literally supporting people in your community," Rajala says. "It is the difference of getting a fresh tomato from Mexico versus a local farm, or a beautiful, hand-knit scarf from a local artist versus a factory with unsafe conditions in Bangladesh. In most cases, buying and using locally-made goods is a win-win for your community and local economy." 

The Movement

The next project for Rajala is North Bay Made, which will expand the local buying movement into the surrounding counties. North Bay Made will highlight products made in the San Francisco North Bay region, as well as retailers in the area who feature locally-made products.

Through Made Local Marketplace, North Bay Made and Share Exchange, a marketing cooperative for local businesses, Rajala's movement has "made a significant impact in growing community awareness about the benefits and importance of supporting local," she says. "You will find the word 'local' everywhere – in shop windows, newspaper ads, on banners in grocery stores and on bumper stickers. We have more shoppers thanking us for creating a place where it is easy to find locally-made things."

Due to the success of Made Local Marketplace, people in surrounding communities have asked for help in creating similar local cooperatives. In addition to expanding the movement with North Bay Made, Rajala is creating a Made Local Marketplace Toolkit to help other people start a similar business or add a local section to an existing business. "It has been a fun way to make a positive difference," she says.

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