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! ☕️

30+ options for investing in our community

Invest Local banner, blue text on gray background

Are you looking for ways to invest locally?  Here’s our list of some options right here in Rhode Island. (If we missed something that should be on the list, let us know!)

  1. Become a member of your local food co-op, like Urban Greens in Providence.
  2. Shift 50% of your big-box spending to independent, locally-owned businesses. 
  3. Purchase a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) membership. 
  4. Subscribe to Market Mobile or Munroe Dairy, subscription services that carry other local products. 
  5. Buy your weekly produce at your local farmers’ market. 
  6. Visit any of the great artisan markets Rhode Island has to offer, like the Providence Flea or Anti-Robot Club’s Marketplace.
  7. Look for crowdfunding opportunities from local, independent businesses. 
  8. Compost your food scraps, using a local start-up like the Compost Plant or Harvest Cycle
  9. Move your money to a local bank or credit union. 
  10. Ask your employer how much of their spending is with locally-owned, independent businesses. 
  11. Call a local taxi company or car service instead of Uber or Lyft. 
  12. Order takeout directly from your favorite restaurant, instead of using national platforms like GrubHub or UberEats, which take a huge surcharge off the top.
  13. Make a gift to support Bonus Bucks at Farm Fresh, which provide a 100% matching bonus for shoppers at farmers’ markets who receive federal Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits.
  14. Volunteer with Hope’s Harvest to glean surplus produce for local farms. 
  15. Support local fishermen and women by buying Rhode Island seafood
  16. Support a local news outlet like ecoRI or The Public’s Radio, or subscribe to a locally-owned newspaper like the Warwick Beacon or East Bay RI Newspapers.  
  17. Join an “RI Buy Nothing” group to trade/reuse/exchange with local residents.
  18. Set up a recurring gift to Local Return and join like-minded individuals throughout the state who contribute monthly, quarterly, or annually, enabling us to build a vibrant, inclusive, and sustainable Rhode Island.
  19. Donate your professional service pro-bono to groups and individuals when permissible (some ideas: lawyers donating legal advice/representation, financial advisors and brokers investing willing-clients’ assets into local/community-focused enterprises, grocers/restaurants donating food, mechanics donating labor for vehicle repair).
  20. Participate in your local flea market for second-hand purchases instead of big-box stores.
  21. Consider recycling metal components with a scrap yard/dealer or listing broken and/or unused equipment (lawnmowers, car parts such as hubs and calipers, etc.) on Marketplace, Craigslist, or a local community group.
  22. Looking for a unique gift idea? Buy from local artists!
  23. Become a patron of community theaters like Teatro ECAS or Wilbury Theatre Group.
  24. Take in a show at a local theater, like the Greenwich Odeum, Stadium Theatre, or Columbus Theatre.
  25. Donate or set aside unused land for community gardening or a community park, or begin cultivating and growing your own plants. Also consider setting aside yard space or window boxes to plant wildflowers for pollinators.
  26. Shop at an independent, locally-owned grocery store, like Dave’s Market or Brigido’s Fresh Market.
  27. Mixed-use property owners can donate vacant storefront space to “quality of life” tenants permissible within zoning ordinances. For example, multifamily property owners with commercial groundspace could donate space to a small grocer instead of leaving it vacant.
  28. Purchase from employee-owned certified enterprises.
  29. Donate unused books to a local library or community book exchange, or deposit them at Little Free Libraries you spot in your neighborhood. 
  30. Learn a trade by assisting Habitat for Humanity in building homes.
  31. Reserve space at local parks (especially underutilized parks) to hold community events, cookouts, movies-on-the-block, etc. This encourages municipal investment in parks!
  32. When possible, commute to work one day a week by RIPTA.

Rhode Island Senate refuses to take up predatory lending reform

Photo of screen in Rhode Island House of Representatives showing passage of payday lending reform

“Poverty isn’t simply the condition of not having enough money. It’s the condition of not having enough choice and being taken advantage of because of that.”

Matthew Desmond, Poverty, by America

As they say, there’s good news and there’s bad news.

The good news — amazing, really! — is that last Thursday, the Rhode Island House of Representatives passed by a vote of 70-2 H5160 to cap payday loan interest at 36%. This marks the first time that either legislative chamber brought this important legislation to a floor vote. Thank you to Representative Karen Alzate for her sponsorship of the legislation, Speaker Joseph Shekarchi for putting it to a floor, and all of the representatives who stood up for economic justice!

The bad news is that the Senate, under the leadership of President Dominick Ruggerio, declined to pick up the bill. Yet again, Rhode Island has sent the message that our state is open for unscrupulous and predatory lenders to exploit poor and working class Rhode Islanders by charging exorbitant interest rates and trapping them in cycles of debt while draining millions of dollars in fees from our neighborhoods.

We’re disappointed by the ultimate outcome but encouraged by this year’s progress. We’ll be back next year with the Rhode Island Coalition for Payday Reform to demand action.

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 jessica@localreturn.org

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. 

Shop independent and local this holiday season

It’s hard to be believe, but the holidays are once again upon us. As you’re finalizing your celebrating and gift-giving plans, why not make a pledge to support independent, local businesses whenever possible?

We can’t forget that every dollar we spend has impact. When we buy from locally-owned, independent businesses, our money does more good for our local community. There are a lot of good reasons to buy local. Here are six of our favorites: 

  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 purchase you make, you can strengthen the Rhode Island economy. That’s a lot of power; wield it wisely!

If you’re looking to show some support beyond your wallet, here are a few ways:

  • Friday, November 25 is Plaid Friday. That’s right; we’re taking back Black Friday. Wear plaid to support your locally-owned, independent businesses. Share a pic of yourself on social media using #plaidFriday and #ShopIndieLocal with a few words about why you shop local.
  • Saturday, November 26 is Small Business Saturday. Remind everyone you know!
  • Tuesday, November 29 is Giving Tuesday. It’s a great time to make a few year-end charitable donations to your favorite nonprofit organizations.

Looking for some good options on how/where to spend locally this holiday season? We’re compiling a list of the local markets. (If your community is hosting a market that we’ve missed, please email jessica@localreturn.org to let us know.)

Shop Indie Art

Shop Indie Art

October is Shop Indie Art Month. Local artists make our local places special. They help us reflect, observe, capture, provoke, mourn, and celebrate. They’re also a major economic force. By supporting local artists, you’re contributing to the local economy and the community.

Related: Why buy local? 
Related: 10 Reasons to Support the Arts from the Americans for the Arts Action Fund

Rhode Island, this is your time to shine! Who has more creative talent than us? Plus, in Rhode Island, you can buy original and limited edition art tax-free. Share on social media using #ShopIndieArt and one of our graphics.

If you’re looking to support local talent, here are just a few places to look. (Let us know who we missed!)

Collectives

Theaters

Venues for Performing Artists

Artisan Markets

Makers

Authors

#ShopIndieArt graphics

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 jessica@localreturn.org 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!  

Our next Local Social

Local Social is August 24 at 5:30 p.m. at Hope & Main

Interested in local economies and investing? Come on out to our next Local Social at the Schoolyard Market at Hope & Main on Wednesday, August 24, at 5:30 p.m. The market features live music, vendors, and food and beverage trucks. You’ll meet some fun people, experience beautiful Warren, AND support a whole bunch of locally-owned businesses at once.

Hope & Main is located at 691 Main Street in Warren. It’s accessible by RIPTA #60 and just off the East Bay Bike Path. There is ample parking across the street in the Franklin Street parking lot.

Email jessica@localreturn.org for more information. See you then!