Hot Beverage February

Tea and chocolate mousse from Madrid Bakery & Patisserie in Providence
Photo of a beautiful hot chocolate from The Nook, East Greenwich
Hot chocolate, anyone? This beauty came from The Nook in East Greenwich.

During the month of February, we’re partnering with Eat Drink RI to encourage you to get out and support your local, independently-owned cafes, bakeries, and coffeehouses. It’s a slow, dreary month for everyone, and our local businesses need our support.

Post a photo of yourself enjoying the hot beverage of your choice, and tag @eatdrinkri and @localreturnri. You’ll be entered into our raffle, with three winners selected to win $35 gift certificates to your favorite local shop.

Enjoy! ☕️

Independents Month 2023

Indie Local digital badges

July is Independents Month! 

Independents Month celebrates independent, locally-owned businesses and the community values they embody:

  • Their spirit of entrepreneurship, individuality, uniqueness, and character
  • How they give back to our community with their time, talents, goods, and services
  • How they fulfill community needs that make us healthier and wealthier

Call to Action!

Independents Month is a fabulous time to:

  • Learn about what’s available locally
  • Consider the consequences of your choices
  • Shift some of your spending to align with your values

You can join us by taking the Indie Pledge to shift 25% of your spending to independent, locally-owned businesses in the month of July.  

Proudly proclaim your independence! If you take the Indie Pledge, you receive a digital badge to share far and wide, loud and proud. If you’re a local, independent business, we’ve got a digital badge and window sticker for you; just contact

Why buy local? 

  1. Money: When we shop local, money stays in our local economy longer and does more good. For every $100 you spend at a locally-owned business, an average of $68 stays in the local community. Compare that to just $43 for a big box store.
  2. Jobs: Local businesses = local jobs. Small businesses are the state’s largest employer. They hire our neighbors, family members, and friends.
  3. Charm: Local businesses shape the character of our communities. They make our places unique and interesting.
  4. Climate: Buying local is good for the environment. It means less resources and energy were used to transport goods.
  5. Community: Local businesses are more inclined to give back to the local community — think Little League teams, raffle donations, and charitable giving — because they are part of the local community. They donate almost 2.5x more per employee than national chains.
  6. Trust: It feels good to do business with someone you know.

With every dollar we spend, we can keep money multiplying in the local economy. 

Local Return hosts a virtual Coffee Hour & Info Session on predatory lending

Virtual Coffee Hour & Info Session: Predatory Lending

Perhaps you’ve heard about recent momentum around legislation curbing predatory lending or payday loans. Or maybe you’ve been following this issue for the past 13 years, wondering why payday lenders in Rhode Island enjoy a statutory carve-out allowing them to charge up to 260% APR.

Join us for a virtual Coffee Hour & Info Session on Friday, April 21, at 9:00 a.m. to learn more about this harmful practice and what we can do to end it in Rhode Island. We’ll be joined by Margaux Morisseau, deputy director at the Rhode Island Coalition for the Homeless, and Alan Krinsky, director of research and fiscal policy at the Economic Progress Institute.

Payday loans are high-cost loans structured to perpetuate an ongoing cycle of debt. The
federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s research on payday lending practices shows that the average payday loan consumer gets caught in a cycle of debt, taking
out 10 loans per year due to an inability to pay off the balance with the constantly growing fees.

Rhode Island is a policy outlier. Nationally, 18 states and the District of Columbia have laws with rate caps of 36% or lower. Congress acted in 2006 to protect active-duty military personnel by capping loans to such individuals at 36%.

In 2018, payday lenders drained $7.5 million in fees from Rhode Islanders. That’s $7.5 million being extracted from our families and neighborhoods.

There is momentum building at the State House to end this carve-out and institute a 36% APR cap. Margaux and Alan will bring us up to speed about why this issue matters, answer questions about the pending legislation, and let us know what we can do to help.

Shop Black-Owned

Build communities, Shop Black owned

This February, Local Return joins many partners around the U.S. to support Black-owned businesses. Let’s inspire our communities to help build Black wealth and celebrate the rich culture and diversity that make up our economy and communities.

This Shop Black-Owned Campaign is part of AMIBA’s Shop Indie Local Initiative.

Here are some things you can do: 

Choose Black-owned businesses.

Here are just a few of Rhode Island’s Black-owned businesses that have been called out by friends of Local Return:

Ask your favorite locally owned businesses if they carry products made or grown by Black-owned businesses. 

Encourage retailers you patronize to take the Fifteen Percent Pledge, dedicating 15% of their shelf space to Black-owned brands. (Black people make up 15% of the population in the United States.)

Amplify the “Shop Black-Owned” message in February

Use #ShopBlackOwned on social media, and share a message with your family and friends.

Support organizations that support Black-owned businesses, like the Rhode Island Black Business Association and African Alliance of Rhode Island.

Both organizations are nonprofits that are sustained by charitable contributions. RIBBA is hosting a State of Black Businesses in Rhode Island Legislative Breakfast on Friday, February 24.

Together, we can build stronger local economies that are diverse, inclusive, and equitable.

Local Return releases 2023 Policy Paper

Chart showing disparities among Rhode Island neighborhoods

COVID impacted everyone, but the people and places that were hit hardest were those without a “cushion.” Communities that lack a wealth of reserves in their regular lives had no breathing room to deal with crisis, illness, loss of work, or isolation. The pandemic forced us to see the disparate outcomes and burdens that persist across our neighborhoods. It’s clear: We cannot move forward from COVID using the same economic and community development strategies that we relied on in the past, which only helped create those vulnerabilities. This is Rhode Island’s moment to move toward a stronger future, to build deep and wide community resilience. By focusing on wealth, ownership, and investment, we can help Rhode Island’s economy and communities find strong, sustainable footing.

The purpose of this policy paper is to introduce several potential strategies of community
wealth-building. Our intent is to shift the boundaries of what’s considered possible in our state. We have intentionally included a diversity of ideas that could be implemented at multiple levels of government and with different degrees of investment. For each idea we discuss in the following pages, we describe how it promotes community wealth, another instance of implementation, and how it might work in Rhode Island.

We hope you will engage with these ideas, improve upon them, and help make them reality.

It’s Local Social time again

Local Social is November 2 at Apponaug Brewing in Warwick

Interested in local economies and investing? Come on out to our next Local Social at Apponaug Brewing on Wednesday, November 2, at 5:30 p.m. You’ll meet some fun people, drink local beer, and enjoy sparking conversation on the banks of the beautiful Pawtuxet River.

Apponaug Brewing is located at 334 Knight Street in Warwick. Email for more information. See you then!

Meet Kritika and Kiera, our Learning Fellows

This summer, Local Return is thrilled to have on our team two Learning Fellows through the Swearer Center at Brown University. Kiera Walsh and Kritika Shrivastava are working with us to mine research and data around community wealth, investment ecosystems, and economic self-reliance. They’re enthusiastic and diligent scholars, passionate about our future. Please welcome Kritika and Kiera!