Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Nonprofit supports Madison businesses through Shop Local Celebration

2023 celebration promotes Dane County businesses until Dec. 17
Image courtesy of Kit Brath

Until Dec. 17, Dane Buy Local is holding its fourth annual Shop Local Celebration — an initiative shifting the consumer trend from large national chains to local independent businesses, Madison-based nonprofit Dane Buy Local Executive Director Paula Severson said. The event began Nov. 1.

Dane Buy Local is a nonprofit aimed at educating people on the benefits of shopping locally and promoting local businesses and ventures. They have over 600 registered members, from banks, to grocery stores, to cafes owned and operated by members of the Dane County community, according to the Dane Buy Local website.

The Shop Local Celebration 2023 is led by Severson and two others. The event is one of their many initiatives aimed at promoting local business by providing an incentive throughout larger national changes.


The main issue is the prices, Severson said.

“It is hard for local businesses to compete,” Severson said. “Think of the purchasing power that Walmart has. When they order a product for Christmas, they can get it at a cheaper price because they are buying so much of it and local business can’t source that many and the pricing becomes substantially different.”

Madison bar hosts weekly dance lessons and parties

Many prefer to buy from larger national chains with cheaper prices, but this can have a negative impact, Severson said, citing Dane Buy Local’s 2019 survey conducted alongside Civic Economics, an economic analysis and strategic planning consulting company based in Chicago and Tulsa.

A 10% market shift from national chains to independent business in Dane County can increase up to $173 million of revenue per year, also leading to an increase in employment and growth in the region, according to the survey.

This is not the case with national chains, which remove money from the local economy. By purchasing local and paying an extra $5 or so, the entire community benefits, Severson said.

Last year, Dane County’s economy was evaluated at $1.6 billion, according to Severson. In comparison, Amazon sales in Dane County were around $625 million, according to the Civic Economics survey. Though Amazon is now bringing employment to Dane County, it is not the same with most large national chains.

To have a healthy and thriving economy, it is important for people to understand the effect of purchasing locally. Severson said that the people of Madison and Dane County, especially students, should make an effort and help shift their purchases from large chains to local business.

“I know Amazon is easy, and it’s popular, but rather than ordering something on there see if there’s somewhere local you can get it from first,” Severson said. “Just look at where you’re eating lunch and if you are doing your Christmas shopping before you head home for the holiday break.”

She also gives the example of fast-food restaurants such as Qdoba. They are convenient, but there are also Mexican restaurants owned by local families and making that small effort to find one and go there can really make a difference both to the economy and the family, Severson said.

UW alum uses art to help underprivileged children, wins 2023 Forward Award

In local outlets, 47% to 60% of the revenue goes back to the local economy, whereas this return is only 13% to 30% for national chains, according to the Civic Economics survey.

Shop Local Celebration 2023 brings about this change and awareness. As part of the program, a minimum of 70 gift cards are awarded to customers, encouraging them to making purchases at local businesses listed in their catalogue called a passport, Severson said. Each time a customer makes a purchase equivalent to or above $10 in one of the designated outlets, they can email their receipts to [email protected] to participate in the competition. They are then placed in a random lottery which picks winners every week.

The program also involved events such as Small Business Saturday on Nov. 25 and Cambridge Christmas from Dec. 1 to Dec. 3, awarding additional benefits to locally purchasing customers.

With the program, Dane Buy Local hopes to share the stories of local businesses and promote the local economy.

“It is helping tell the stories of local business owners and helping them realize their dreams,” Severson said. “Like a business that just has a food cart and has a dream to get in their own restaurant space someday.”

Leave a Comment
Donate to The Badger Herald

Your donation will support the student journalists of University of Wisconsin-Madison. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
Donate to The Badger Herald

Comments (0)

All The Badger Herald Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *