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Program encourages shoppers to spend locally
By Joni Hirsch Blackman | Daily Herald Columnist
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Published: 12/8/2008 12:00 AM

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Maybe it's because I consider myself somewhat independent. Maybe it's because I agree with everything in their Declaration of Independence-like declaration. Maybe it's because I love books.

Whatever the reason, I'm intrigued by the concept behind IndieBound, an American Booksellers Association-driven effort to encourage shoppers to patronize businesses of all types that are independently owned.

It's a movement whose time has come, and particularly this time of year is a good time to at least try to patronize your independently owned local businesses first.

The Declaration of IndieBound reads:

"When in the course of human events it becomes necessary for individuals to denounce the corporate bands which threaten to homogenize our cities and our souls, we must celebrate the powers that make us unique and declare the causes which compel us to remain independent.

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all stores are not created equal, that some are endowed by their owners, their staff, and their communities with certain incomparable heights, that among these are Personality, Purpose and Passion. The history of the present indies is a history of experiences and excitement, which we will continue to establish as we set our sights on a more unconstrained state. To prove this, let's bring each other along and submit our own experiences to an unchained world.

"We, therefore, the Kindred Spirits of IndieBound, in the name of our convictions, do publish and declare that these united minds are, and darn well ought to be, Free Thinkers and Independent Souls. That we are linked by the passions that differentiate us. That we seek out soul mates to share our excitement. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the strength of our identities, we respectively and mutually pledge to lead the way as we all declare that we are IndieBound!"

A noble idea, just barely begun, but hopefully one that will take off.

For quite a while now, I've noticed that visiting new towns isn't nearly as much fun as it used to be years ago because of something the IndieBound movement mentions in its statement: the homogenization. No matter where you go these days, the business districts all look way too much the same.

Maybe that's why some of my favorite shops around town are unique places like Anderson's Bookshop (which also has awesome toys), Naper Nuts and Sweets, Oswald's and Casey's Foods and the fairly new shop in that same shopping center, Badlands.

According to a Publishers Weekly story about the new IndieBound initiative unveiled last May, there is a "growing consumer interest in supporting locally owned business."

The concept includes a program Web site that links to one for each community. In Naperville, the program is spearheaded by Anderson's and already includes 40 businesses. Each feels strongly about the benefits of "indies:" they offer unique products, shops back up all of their products and care very much about the service they provide.

They even have a special marketing effort going for the holiday season. If you pick up a red envelope at a participating store and collect 10 receipts in the envelope (one from each of 10 stores or several from one store, no matter) and turn it in, you'll be entered in a January raffle.

"We want to keep this going," said Kris Nugent, Anderson's manager. "There's always someone new to educate. When you shop at an independent store, more of your money stays in the community - you're making a choice for your community. We try to do a lot of things collectively that give back to the community."

IndieBound's national group reports that when a customer spends $100 at a local independent business, $68 stays in the community as opposed to $43 when you shop at a national chain.

Some businesses participating in the Red Envelope Program are Two Bostons, Bee Entertaining, Cabernet & Co., My Left Foot shoes, Canterbury Shop and Cookie Dough Creations as well as several local restaurants and salons.

Check out the Web site, indiebound.org/cities/naperville/illinois.

• Joni Hirsch Blackman writes about Naperville. E-mail her at jonihb@aol.com.