Maybe you’ve seen the signs in windows and doors around downtown Bothell. They’re red, shaped like shopping bags and say: “Buy Bothell. It just makes cents!”
These are the visible signs of a buy-local campaign that’s several years old now, a quiet reminder to Bothell residents that they don’t have to leave their hometown for shopping and entertainment.
The idea is that simply being there in a storefront on a downtown street isn’t enough, that business owners need to take an active role in promoting their neighbors.
Years into the effort, results are hard to quantify. It’s difficult to say if the Buy Bothell guide that’s distributed to 16,000 residences, the advertising, or the coupons make a difference.
And it’s difficult to say if that’s part of the reason customers come to the Village Bean at Country Village. But the coffee shop’s owner Karin Resing thinks there’s something to it — even if it’s only a vague awareness that spending locally can pay off.
The Village Bean coffee shop in Bothell’s Country Village. (Michael O’Leary / The Herald )
“I do talk to customers about buying local, and my customers seem really invested in that,” Resing said.
Country Village, a picturesque collection of shops on the Bothell-Everett Highway, could be the heart for the Buy Bothell movement. Many of the businesses there are involved in the campaign, and Resing thinks she and her neighbors benefit when consumers take a second look at where they spend their dollars.
“We the typical small business run by just an average person,” she said. “Most of us (at Country Village) are family owned.”
Country Village manager Leeann Tesorieri has been involved with Buy Bothell since the program’s inception, and she said the campaign is partly about empowering small businesses.
“This is one way they can band together and educate the public so they realize the impact their choices make,” she said.
It’s not clear if prominent buy-local campaigns make a difference to entrepreneurs looking for a place to set up shop, said Lori Cadwell, executive director of the Greater Bothell Chamber of Commerce. But a stronger coalition could help the campaign see larger payoffs, she said.
Tesorieri said there are returns for consumers: Local businesses are more likely to make return investments in their community. But she thinks the real payoff will be farther down the road, after consumers are more used to thinking about local options first.
“Any program like this is a long-term program,” Tesorieri said. You’re not going to change people’s buying habits overnight.”
Know a small business you think we should write about? Contact Herald writer Amy Rolph at email@example.com.