Go Local!

Here’s a gift idea for you: The brand-new Go Local discount card being offered by the Asheville City Schools Foundation and the Asheville Grown Business Alliance.

Remember school checks? They were popular, yes, but the discounts were typically for chain restaurants and half the money went to the company that underwrote the program. The Go-Local card operates under a similar premise: pay $15 upfront, get discounts at local businesses throughout the year.

“We want it to be a thing where all the locals in the know have a card, and then businesses who don’t know about it will ask to be on it,” says Franzi Charen of Asheville Grown. So far, 50 businesses have signed on to the program, and more are in the works.

The discounts will revolve and change according to what the restaurant, retailer or other business wants to offer. Say, for example, a store wants to put all its socks on sale at 50 percent off for a month. Go Local! card holders will be privy to the deal.

To order the cards, visit the Asheville City Schools Foundation website at acsf.org, or Asheville Grown’s website (ashevillegrown.wordpress.com).

The new black

Asheville Grown also wants us to shift our shopping — although, hopefully, many of us have already done so. Charen was recruited by the national organization Shift Your Shopping to help with this year’s campaign, which aims to encourage people to shift their holiday spending to local, independent businesses — providing a powerful boost to the local economy, and helping preserve and create local jobs.

Americans spend about $700 per person on holiday-related purchases, according to data from the National Retail Federation.

“When you have even a portion of that going back to the local economy, it’s so important,” Charen says.

But there are more reasons than that to shop local for your loved ones.

“Thinking about quality is huge, and spending more money on quality and less on quantity,” Charen says. “So maybe you skip the stocking stuffers but buy quality products made local, and emphasize that on your gift. So they know it’s more than just a scarf, it’s a scarf that a local artist made, and it becomes that much more special.”

Asheville Grown’s “Local is the New Black” campaign cranked up last year, and this year its revving its engine again. It seems the trend has caught on: an email titled “Christmas 2011: Birth of a New Tradition” has come to our inbox more than once this November. An excerpt:

“As the holidays approach, the giant overseas factories are kicking into high gear to provide Americans with monstrous piles of cheaply produced goods — merchandise that has been produced at the expense of American labor. This year will be different. This year Americans will give the gift of genuine concern for other Americans. Local! There is no longer an excuse that, at gift-giving time, nothing can be found that is produced by American hands.”

The note then offers a list of suggestions, from gift certificates to oil-changes to haircuts and more. Read the full list at http://www.mountainx.com.

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