You may not be able to buy happiness, but you can buy local. And the numbers show that area residents are doing just that, continuing a proud tradition of supporting local businesses through the Go Local card, a discount and special offers program that features over 500 locally owned businesses throughout Buncombe County.
According to a new report from the program’s creator, the Asheville Grown Business Alliance, sales from Go Local cards had seen a steady rise since 2018, with 2020’s first-quarter sales topping the previous year’s by 35%.
This year, more than 2,000 Go Local cards were purchased in the first quarter of 2021 (compared with 3,050 in the same period last year). While numbers are down due to the COVID-19 pandemic, they still represent a robust demand and a shift to online and bulk sales, says Michele Bryan, the organization’s program manager.
“Go Local is about preserving, strengthening and advocating for the heart and soul of Asheville, thereby assuring our children have a vibrant community with economic opportunities to grow up into,” Bryan comments.
Half of the proceeds from the sale of the 2021 Go Local cards are donated to public schools to enhance programming, purchase teacher supplies and support local kids. So far this year, the Asheville Grown Business Alliance has handed over $16,806 to schools and to the Asheville City Schools Foundation based on first-quarter sales of Go Local cards.
“Because of the pandemic and the need to avoid in-person events, the Asheville Primary Parent Teacher Collective hasn’t held many fundraisers this year,” says Polly Bolding, Asheville City Schools preschool enrollment and engagement coordinator and faculty liaison at the West Asheville public school. “It’s been so helpful to have Go Local donations that can support classroom and remote learning needs, as well as teacher appreciation efforts in this challenging year.”
Other initiatives supported by funding from the Go Local cards this year include T-shirts for school teams and an outdoor shade structure that will allow kids to learn in the open air.
Franzi Charen, director at Asheville Grown, says continued support from the sales of the discount cards will contribute to a successful post-pandemic business economy and thriving community.
“Coming out of the year of the pandemic, we need to radically shift our investment and focus to local,” she says.