Michigan Retailers Launch "Buy Nearby"

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You've heard of getting caught red-handed, but what about getting caught blue-handed?

It's the theme behind a new statewide "buy local" campaign by the Michigan Retailers Association.

"Think local, buy nearby," President of the Michigan Retailers Association Jim Hallan said.

It's the simple message they want to spread in order to encourage shoppers to take pride in what Michigan has to offer.

"We need to make sure that when a customer makes a thoughtful purchase they realize that there is an investment in their town when they keep the dollars local, because those dollars spin and turn into other dollars locally," Hallan said.

Some retailers have taken a hit thanks to the internet, so they're hoping to boost brick and mortar stores - by going viral. The Buy Nearby campaign YouTube videos show how people can literally get caught blue-handed in the future by actually visiting their local stores.

"Anybody can sit in front of a computer and click the mouse -- that's not fun," Buy Nearby Committee Chairwoman Barb Stein said. "It's much more fun to interact with people and see and feel things, and that's what we're trying to remind them."

Many local stores are already excited about the campaign, and believe it will help business.

"It's not an easy world to be in retail, so if there's anything that we can do to help promote it, to help promote each other -- whether it's a small store or a big store, it doesn't matter," Becky Beauchine Kulka, owner of Becky Beauchine Kulka Diamonds and Fine Jewelry Store in Okemos. "We all need people coming in our stores, and we all need them to buy locally."

She's already downloaded the Buy Nearby posters and posted the logo on her Facebook page. Larger retailers are also optimistic.

"It's gets people thinking about it," Steve Antaya, Vice President of Tom's Food Center, said. "More people think about it, the more people make positive choices to support Michigan companies."

It also means supporting Michigan workers.

"It comes down to jobs. As retail sales go up, retailers are going to hire more employees, and that's good for Michigan," Hallan said.

The Michigan Retailers Association has planned an annual day to celebrate Buy Nearby, where stores will have special giveaways.

It's scheduled for October 5, but they hope people will shop locally year-round.

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