'Buy Local' Community in Marshfield, WI

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Figis Outlet Store in Marshfield, WI
J. Kyle Keener

Marshfield may not be a sprawling metropolis, but the bustling city has plenty to offer in the way of goods and services, and a dedicated group of community leaders is out to convince everyone in town that shopping locally is the wave of the future.

Buy Local Group

Buy Local started, appropriately, with meetings at a corner table of the locally owned Blue Heron BrewPub. Today, businesses around town sport Buy Local window decals and posters, and a snazzy website has turned the concept into a full-blown movement.

“It is so easy to just hop in the car and go to a big mall somewhere and not realize that if you try to buy local first, everything that you can buy locally is going to improve Marshfield,” says Melissa Darr, a founding member of Buy Local. “We want to educate the consumers so they understand the benefit and the need for buying local. We need them to understand how the money they spend affects the community.”

The Buy Local team, along with committed volunteers and local business owners, has gone door-to-door throughout a 22-mile radius of Marshfield, personally encouraging businesses that have not yet jumped on board to join the program, which is funded by the Marshfield Area Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Marshfield Economic Development Association.

“We were the primary supporters to say, ‘Great idea. We’ll help you out as much as we can if you kind of get the program up and running,’” says Scott Larson, executive director of MACCI. In the vein of buying local, the chamber also offers popular gift cards, good for any Marshfield chamber member businesses, that bring in excess of $800,000 every year.

Business-to-Business

One area the Buy Local team and the chamber hope to improve is business-to-business interaction in Marshfield. “If someone is adding on and they need new windows, we want them to look for a Marshfield vendor to buy those windows,” says Darr, senior manager of quality assurance for Figi’s Inc., a mail-order food and specialty gift provider. “It’s really educating businesses, as well as a businessowner learning, ‘Why is that important?’”

Local businesses that have jumped on the Buy Local bandwagon are already seeing results. Figi’s Outlet, the storefront for Darr’s employer, has made connections with local food producers since the Buy Local effort got under way. The outlet is also enjoying new partnerships with local hotels to provide food-filled welcome baskets for guests. Figi’s customers are enjoying the fruits – or, more accurately, the cheeses – of Buy Local, as well.

“Just getting in that different merchandise has been truly amazing – customers tasting it and explaining to them about local dairy farmers and being able to support them,” says Ginger Jansen, a supervisor at Figi’s. “I think it’s just opening the public’s eyes, just seeing that sign, or the decals, or being able to put that on our product – that we’re getting it locally. Why not shop with us versus going out of the city? And why not bring more business back into our community?”

It’s a movement that Jansen feels has been a long time coming – and one she hopes is here to stay. “I think it’s something that Marshfield has really needed,” she says.

“And in these times, staying local and supporting local business is very crucial, especially for smaller communities.”

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Wed, 02/28/2018 - 21:22