‘The Localist’ author Carrie Rollwagen at Malaprop’s March 25

Carrie Rollwagen, author of The Localist: Think Independent, Buy Local and Take Back the American Dream

Blogger and bookstore co-owner Carrie Rollwagen visits Asheville Wednesday, March 25, to discuss localism and to promote her book, The Localist: Think Independent, Buy Local and Take Back the American Dream.

The Localist — Rollwagen’s first book — resulted from a year of blog posts about choosing independently owned shops instead of big box stores in Birmingham, Ala., she says. Rollwagen opened Church Street Coffee and Books in a location that used to be a Starbucks back in 2011, the same year she started her buy-local shopping experiment.

“The biggest thing I kept hearing is that [buying local] it would be impossible, I wouldn’t be able to find stuff and it would be really expensive,” she says.

However, buying locally wasn’t nearly as difficult as she thought it would be. “I actually saved a ton of money,” she says. “It forced me to be more thoughtful.”

Rollwagen focused on where she purchased her food and other goods. “I bought less. I planned out my shopping trips instead of going to a one-stop shop,” she says.

And Rollwagen learned a lot about her city, she explains in a video for a Kickstarter campaign she launched to help get her book published. The book “asks the question: ‘Does buying local even matter?'” she says on her Kickstarter page.

Rollwagen says it does, reporting in the Kickstarter video that she learned that for every $10 you spend locally, up to $7 stays in the community.

As for  Asheville, her visit is one stop on an East Coast “buy local” train adventure that starts in New Orleans on March 6 and concludes in New York in April, Rollwagen explains. “I want to see what people in other cities think about shopping locally,” she says.

When it comes to buying local, Asheville boasts a variety of independently owned stores, including the longtime bookstore, Malaprop’s. Although the city’s not on her Amtrak route, Rollwagen says she is excited to visit Malaprop’s because it is such a big name in independent bookstores and she wants to discuss shopping small and buying independent.

Rollwagen’s own experience as the co-owner of a small bookstore can be found in The Localist along with her local shopping adventures. “We’ve been very lucky,” she says. “This July will be our fourth year open.”

“We geared our bookstore toward what customers would want with coffee,” she says. As Rollwagen says in her Kickstarter video, “Every time I clean up a mess or do the dishes or whip cream, I know that I’m helping build my community.”

WHAT: Carrie Rollwagen book signing and discussion of The Localist

WHEN: 7 p.m. on Wednesday, March 25

WHERE: Malaprop’s Bookstore and Cafe, 55 Haywood St.


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