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Buy Local

Here are a few principles to keep in mind:

  1. Buy less. We can’t foster sustainability in the long term without reducing consumption of goods and resources. That means buying less (or buying used), but buying better (higher quality, longer lasting, more community impact) when we do buy. Make fewer purchases, but make each one count.
  2. Given two, choose locally owned. Not everything we want or need has a local solution. But when it does, we can make our purchases count by going to the business that’s locally owned. Learn about the ways that local ownership positively benefits our economy and communities.
  3. Reward stewardship. Local owners run their businesses with community in mind, for the obvious but important reason that they live here too. Get to know the people behind businesses. Find out what they are doing to steward community, and then reward that commitment with your daily purchases.

Michael Shuman describes a purchasing hierarchy that can guide our thinking: run every choice through a chain of questions along a local impact scale.

  • Is it made or grown locally, where the production is a source of jobs and wealth for the community?
  • Is it bought from a locally owned business, where the owner’s stake in the community is a source of benefit and long-term wealth generation?
  • Does it use local ingredients or raw materials, thereby supporting strong local markets between businesses and suppliers?
  • And finally, is it a large purchase or investment? – since those are the most important to try and keep local.

We won’t answer yes to every question with every purchase, and there will be times when the local choice is not most attractive for other reasons. But we can ask the questions. We can make the connection between the communities we want, the change we need, and the businesses we already have.


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Three times as much money stays locally when spent locally. This reverberation of economic power, the local multiplier, results in an interdependent network of known and trusted businesses and service providers buying from one another over and over again. This is the fabric of a strong local economy.

Thinking local first means remembering the multiplier and voting with your dollars for the kind of community you want to have.

January 2021

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Why choose an independent local bank or credit union?

  1. Lower fees
  2. Your money will build your local economy.
  3. Keep decision making local.

Read more …

Local First Alliance Members

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Our program is underwritten by these community partners

Co-op Full Color logo 

    LaValley    King Arthur Flour    GER_logo_clr

      Chippers      WLFS_LOGO_ROUND_SLOGAN

*  Sustaining Members  *

A.B. Gile    *   Simple Energy    *    F.H. Clothing Co.

John Ring, CPA   *   Jake’s Market & Deli and Jake’s Coffee Co.   *    Skinny Pancake

 Lyme Green Heat    *   Nomad Communications


Vital Communities Program News


Erika Hoffman-Kiess

Vital Economy

Local First


Local First

— Erika Hoffman-Kiess, Vital Economy

Erika Hoffman-Kiess joined Vital Communities in 2020 – first as a Workforce Development consultant, facilitating a workforce discussion for the Corporate Council, and subsequently joining staff to support Covid-19 economic response activities. Erika brings years of experience in program design, management, and consulting for United States Agency for International Development and other donor funded international workforce and economic development. Most recently she facilitated a statewide series of Workforce Summits for the Regional Development Corporations of Vermont, developing policy guidance for the legislature and the executive branch. Erika grew up in Thetford, graduating from Thetford Academy, and moved back to the area in 2011 after many years spent living and working across the US and abroad. She holds a BA in Political Science from Goucher College and an MPA (Master of Public Administration) from the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University. Erika lives in Thetford with her husband, Mike Kiess (also on VC staff) and enjoys spending time with extended family, exploring the natural environment and volunteering on two Boards serving international community development organizations, Tabitha USA (Cambodia) and Friends of Pakistan USA.

Nancy LaRowe

Food & Farm and Local First Coordinator

Local First, Food & Farm

 802-291-9100 x106

Local First, Food & Farm

— Nancy LaRowe, Food & Farm and Local First Coordinator

Nancy joined Vital Communities as the Food & Farm Coordinator in 2014. She works to support and grow our local food system and economy. Nancy has lived, worked, and farmed in the Upper Valley for more than 25 years and believes our community is healthier and stronger when our connections to food and the farms that produce it stay vital.

Nancy's informal job title is Farmer-in-Residence: she also runs a pasture-based cattle farm in Norwich. Nancy is on the Board of the Norwich Farmers' Market and a retired Norwich volunteer firefighter and EMT. She loves puttering in the garden, hiking with her dog, and visiting farmers' markets.