Mel McMahon-Stone, co-founder of Indiana Originals, presented on the importance of shopping local at the Coffee with the Chamber meeting June 10 at the Hampton Inn in Westfield.
To open, McMahon-Stone asked the crowd what local meant to them. Many mentioned locally owned businesses.
“What local means to us is, locally owned and operated, headquartered here in Indiana and not part of an out-of-state franchise,” McMahon-Stone said. “It’s really about where the home office is located and who owns it, and the reason for that is economic impact.”
McMahon-Stone said she has nothing against national chains or franchises and noted Indiana Originals actually works with chains to get local brands into their stores.
“We were created to support business owners that don’t have the benefit of national brand recognition,” she said. “They don’t have the benefit of logo design. Entrepreneurism can be a very lonely place. Independent retailers return more than three times as much money per dollar of sales than chain competitors. Independent restaurants return twice as much money to local economy than chains. Local, independent businesses donate more than twice as much per dollar to local nonprofits.”
McMahon-Stone also spoke on the top reasons to shop locally.
“When I think of unique, I think of Nashville, Ind. What does Nashville, Ind., have? It’s quaint,” McMahon-Stone said. “It’s full of these local businesses you don’t really have access to anywhere else.”
McMahon-Stone cited Westfield’s flower shop, pharmacy and boutiques as examples of the city’s unique businesses.
“It makes it special,” she said. “It scares me when people move away from that and they take away these small, local businesses and they put up these large, commercial businesses that sometimes don’t always get filled. (Uniqueness) makes people not only want to go there and visit, it makes them want to stay there.”
She also spoke on the correlation between the mental health of a community and its walkability.
“It’s all about access, it’s about access to resources,” she said. “It’s about access to community and access to getting help if you need it. One of the things that really disappointed me after I had my son was every time I had to go to the grocery store, even though it was right across the street, I had to put him in the car. I couldn’t put him in the stroller and walk.”
McMahon-Stone said the Indiana Originals website will be updated soon to allow more interaction with the public.
“We are going to open it up to the community. Anyone can have a log-in and save their favorite businesses, participate in the forum,” she said.
For more, visit indianaoriginals.com.