As St. Pete continues to grow and as more businesses open here, we think it is important to define what "local" means to the city's Independent Business Alliance, Keep Saint Petersburg Local (KSPL). We'd also like to take this opportunity to share some thoughts on that growth.
First things first – what does "local" mean to KSPL?
KSPL started in 2011, when St. Pete looked very different. We're proud that we've helped instill our palpable fierce city pride and that "Keep St. Pete Local" has become part of our lexicon. As "Buy Local" movements have flourished around the world, not just here, it's understandable that everyone wants to be associated with them. Even big box stores now add "your local" before their global brand name. But, just because you put the word "local" in front of something, doesn't mean that it is.
For KSPL, "local" = an independent business that is based in the City of St. Petersburg, Florida USA (it either started here or moved its headquarters here). Please note that *Local Doesn't = Independent* - they're not interchangeable! Learn more about what an independent business really is HERE: bit.ly/whatisanindiebiz
As KSPL is a membership-based organization, members must meet eligibility requirements and this is the main one - that they're an indie business that started in the City of St. Petersburg or moved its headquarters here, with no corporate headquarters outside Pinellas County.
Here's who is NOT eligible for KSPL membership:
- A franchise – it may be locally-owned, but it is not an independent business and did not start here. FYI – more than 90% of McDonald's are locally-owned franchises. So, if we allow one locally-owned franchise in as a member, where do we draw the line? Please note that we do have members that started in St. Pete and are looking to grow their independent business via the franchise model.
- An independent business that started somewhere outside St. Pete and opens another location in our city, e.g. a business that started in Tampa, or elsewhere in Florida, and opens its second location in St. Pete. Whereas we applaud their growth as an indie business, they would not be able to join KSPL, as they are not #UniquetoStPete. You would be able to visit that business elsewhere, not just in St. Pete, and their growth benefits the city where they're headquartered the most. They are not #StPeteGrown.
We do have a couple of examples of a concept that is #UniquetoStPete that has opened/will open here by individuals who own businesses that started elsewhere. If a St. Pete resident is one of the owners and the concept starts here/will only exist here, then that business is eligible for KSPL membership, even if some owners may be associated with businesses based elsewhere.
- An "independent distributor" - just because independent may form part of their title, a representative/distributor/ambassador of a multi-level-marketing/network marketing/direct sales company (some examples: doTERRA, LuLaRoe, Mary Kay, Origami Owl, Rodan + Fields, Scentsy, Stella & Dot) is NOT an independent business - they are a representative/distributor/ambassador of a national/international company that has its corporate headquarters outside our area.
Our Independent Business Alliance ONLY has locally-owned, independent businesses based in the City of St. Petersburg as members and as vendors at our events, including Localtopia. Find all our KSPL members here.
The word "chain" is NOT a bad word! … Local doesn't = small and stunted!
We've noticed that lately a lot of people are hung up on the word "chain." They want to know if a certain business is part of a "chain," or "growing into a chain." A lot of times when people use the term "chain," they really mean franchise.
When we say that we want to Keep Saint Petersburg Local, we don't mean that we want to keep our local businesses small and stunted! That's why you'll only really see us using #ShopSmall on one day of the year, Small Business Saturday. We believe that local does NOT have to = small and that a St. Pete-based business opening other locations (i.e. a locally-based "chain") is a good thing!
We don't just want our indies to survive, but to thrive! Our mission is to work to build a thriving local economy. Thriving means our St. Pete businesses are expanding, they're opening other locations, they're being distributed by national companies. KSPL applauds all of this because when our indies grow, our community benefits. They're re-circulating more money, helping other independent businesses grow, creating more jobs, encouraging future generations of entrepreneurs and much, much more (learn more about why local matters here).
So, we applaud all of these: Casita Taqueria opening a third location in our city, Bodega St. Pete opening another location in Tampa, Publix rolling out in-store cafes with Kahwa Coffee + Made Coffee and Mother Kombucha being featured on its shelves.
What matters most to KSPL is that they're #BurgBorn and #BurgGrown!
Think Local First
From the moment KSPL launched, our messaging has always been positive. We have never, nor will we ever, tell our community that they shouldn't buy from X (insert any franchise | national/international company here). We have always urged everyone to Think Local First, whenever possible, and as often as possible, and have provided the reasons why our community benefits more when they do. [Did you know? KSPL has actually worked with national companies, such as grocery stores, that have wanted to feature products from our indie businesses on their shelves.] Having said all of that, please do keep the following in mind: franchises and nationally-based companies have an advantage over indies (purchasing power, brand recognition/marketing, etc.).
We're working on behalf of our independent businesses because 1) they can only rely on themselves/they don't get help from a corporate headquarters and 2) their uniqueness contributes to the awesomeness of our city.
With growth, we have more choices, are you saying that's a bad thing?
No, we're not saying that having more choices is a bad thing. Here's what we're asking you to be mindful of … the more we grow, the more we risk losing the local vibe that is spurring on that growth. The choices where you can spend your money are increasing, but we suspect that your income probably isn't increasing, right? It is our mission to urge you to spend that *finite* amount of your disposable income at our independent businesses. Every dollar you spend is a vote for how you want our world to be, especially our community, and we want to protect our distinctive flavor and character!
Hey, but I love "all things local."
That's great! Like we said earlier, we're proud that we've inspired our community to Think Local First and that everyone wants to be associated with local. But, it's one thing to say you love "all things local," and another to walk your talk and actually support our independent businesses with your wallet!
We understand that people get excited about a national grocery store opening in the city. We'll encourage you to hit up our local brick-and-mortar markets, including Mazzaro's Italian Market, Old Southeast Market and Rollin' Oats St. Pete + our weekly markets such as the Saturday Morning Market.
We also understand that newer residents may flock to places with which they're familiar. But, we suspect that one of the main reasons you moved to St. Pete is its local vibe, so please help to keep it alive by seeking out our independent businesses!
Think about where you're spending your money when you go out to eat, where you shop for clothes, where you get a massage. If you're about "all things local," then please walk your talk and vote with your wallet!
Give Where You Live
It's as important to support our local, non-profit organizations with your volunteer time and donations as it is to support our independent businesses with your spending! KSPL also has non-profits/community organizations as members. Please note that they are local non-profits, not the local chapters of national organizations.
KSPL has been working to support St. Pete's independent businesses since 2011. We love that since we started, we've inspired our community to also want to Keep St. Pete... Lit | Shuffllin' | Rad | Special | Weird | Strange | Loco | Kool (among many other things), but at the heart of these, is Keeping St. Pete *Local*! As we need your help to keep our local vibe alive, *Now More Than Ever,* we'd greatly appreciate it if you hashtag #KeepStPeteLocal whenever you're posting about all things local in #StPeteFL (and tag us too)!
Thanks for reading! We felt it important to let you know who we represent!