Foy and Chilton Want You to Buy Local

According to news reports, Mayors Foy and Chilton pledged to do their holiday shopping locally:

"We really feel that it is very important for Orange County residents ... to buy local and to help reinvest the money we spend in our holiday shopping season here in Orange County," Chilton said, just a day after being sworn in as Carrboro's new mayor.

The potential impact, according to the Chamber:

a 1 percent increase in Orange County retail sales, assuming the money would not be spent in another county anyway, would generate nearly $360,000 in extra revenue. That's roughly enough to hire nine new police officers or sheriff's deputies.

Last Saturday, Aaron Nelson took advantage of the holiday parade to hand out "Buy Local" decals to a captive, holiday-primed audience.

The benefits of shopping locally are pretty clear, as are the additional benefits of supporting locally-owned businesses.

Kudos to Chilton, Foy, and Nelson for taking advantage of the holiday season to promote this awareness.



Special thanks to Mayor Chilton who proposed that Mayor Foy and I join him to make public pledges to shop local this holiday season and tie it into the "Buy Local" campaign that we are already working on.

Other officals who joined us for the press conference and pledged to buy local this holiday season included Chapel Hill-Carrboro City School Board Chair Lisa Stuckey, Chapel Hill-Carrboro City School Superintendent Neil Pedersen, Hillsborough Town Board members Mike Gehring and Eric Hallman, Hillsborough/Orange County Chamber Executive Director Margaret Cannell and Southern Neighbor Publisher Bonnie Shaffer.

The Buy Local campaign is a partnership of the Chapel Hill-Carrboro Chamber of Commerce, Hillsborough/Orange County Chamber of Commerce, Orange County Economic Development Commission and Southern Neighbor Newspaper.

For more information and to view the Buy Local website (in its infancy) visit If you would like a Buy Local cling for your business or car please call us at 967-7075 or stop buy 104 S. Estes Drive in Chapel Hill

Hey Aaron, this is the first I've heard of "Southern Neighbor" magazine. According to their website:

"Southern Neighbor is a unique publication reaching more than 25,000 readers in the upscale, close-knit communities of greater Chapel Hill... in more than 45 neighborhoods, including Fearrington Village, Governors Club, MacGregor Downs, Meadowmont, The Oaks, The Reserve, and Southern Village. The median household income for 90% of our service area is $100,000."

They go on to list those 45 neighborhoods, of which mine is not one. In fact, I think if I could map them, they would look like a donut with downtown Chapel Hill being the hole. It seems like they are mostly targeting the suburbs, and omitting neighbors who can walk to one of the main places we want people to do this "local" buying.

It's possible to accomplish all of one's December shopping in downtown Carrboro, supporting only locally owned businesses. I tried this one year and had such great success that it now figures into my holiday tradition.

Build a Walmart in town and I will buy local- think of the tax base!!!!


I think that a significant number of the advertisers in "Southern Neighbor" are from Meadowmont or Southern Village but my recollection is that there are several merchants from Eastgate (and perhaps University Mall) as well. While they may not be downtown Chapel Hill or Carrboro, I think that I would still prefer to see local people shopping at these locations rather than Streets of Southpoint, etc.

Hey, everyone.

I'm the owner of a downtown business (Chapel Hill Comics on 412 W. Franklin Street), and I have to say that I was very happy to see the "Buy Local" signs on the floats this past weekend. I didn't see the decals or Southern Neighbor, so I appreciate the multi-pronged attempt to get out awareness.

Thanks, and I'll try to stop in frequently. I've lurked for a while.

Ok...(I will now reveal my consumption of mass media "news") about a Costco? 60 Minutes did a piece that painted the Costco folks as down right saintly. Not exactly small business, but if "you fight fire with fire", "best defense is a good offense", "nature hates a vacuum" (pick your favorite), then there is a whole lotta buying power here that is going to continue to becken the outside world until it is filled. I like our down town and small businesses a lot and look forward to visiting them...but when I need underwear, tooth paste, and a cheap alarm clock for the in-laws guest bedroom, I'd still like an option other than 1)drive out of town or 2) plan on hopping from place to place (hopefully while doing all my other errands so I am not wasting too much time or gas). Heck, how about a Costco ON A BUS LINE! Now that would be an interesting mix and match!

But really...where do we want to take this whole commerce question in our community? Why are "big boxes" invasive, but A Southern Season is a home town favorite. What version/variety of these services do we want and how can we nuture them? Buy Local is a great piece of the puzzle...

Oh, Yeah!
Just like 'You Count in Orange County'. --Wow, that's inspiring.

What have either of these guys done for our local businesses? Recruit? Fight off big boxes? Develop a plan to provide new space? Don't answer all at once, please.

Hey, how about let's try a bold initiative to declare National Apricot Week.


Well, what they did this week was pledge to do all their holiday shopping locally, and do so in a way that made news in all the papers thereby encouraging others to do the same.

Not "a bold initiative" but still a nice piece of work in the context of a consumer culture and local governments wanting to increase in-county sales.

Small steps do make a difference.

It's a good pledge but both individuals can AFFORD to shop here. With Orange County having a living wage requirement that is 296% higher than the federal standard, I think it would be safe to say that many residents will not find many affordable shopping opportunities in Chapel Hill/Carrboro. If you earned less than $35,000 and were supporting a child, where would you shop locally?



Nice Price Books
Skylight Exchange
Fitch (hand tools make great presents that pay off at unexpected times...)
PTA Thrift Shop
Play It Again Sports
restaurant gift certificates

just to name a few, but really the solution to the problems of affordable housing, the "achievement gap", and affordable necessities is not to allow corporations to come in and underprice stuff and take our money & run, but to simply pay people a dignified, proper amount of money for their work.

If you are operating on low income, you learn how to stretch your dollars. Sometimes it involves saving for specific purchases, sometimes taking advantage of sales months in advance. Many make their own gifts (I still use a home-made trivet a friend who was just starting out as an elementary school librarian gave me 18 years ago).

In addition, many of our locally owned stores sell low and moderate priced items. You can buy toys for as little as $5-10, CDs for $10-20, books for under $10, nice wines on sale for under $10, kitchen utensils (I bought my son an 89 cent little whisk at the place in the mall -he was thrilled).

Please, let's not propagate the myth that you have to shop big-box, big mall, or big chain to get low prices.

Dan--you're the one who raised big box here. I just asked the question about where. Advertising and education are closely related. An advertising slogan that says "Buy Locally" without providing a list of affordable shopping places will work for those with high incomes to shop at the shops that advertise in Southern Neighbor, but if you want to reach those on tighter budgets, you need to provide better ideas, otherwise many of those individuals will just go to Hillsborough/Durham for the Walmart.

Nested in downtown Carrboro is moderately priced and the bead store in Carr Mill Mall is very affordable if you can control the urge to buy the really unique beads.


Making a donation to a local charity is another gift idea. It's not "shopping" but it does support our local community.

This is what my family and I do for each other now. We designate a local charity in our respective communities as the recipient of our gift dollars every year. It has the added benefit of (usually) putting us on that charity's mailing list so that we learn more about what is going on in each other's communities throughout the year. It's another way we can stay connected and "in the know" about each other's hometowns.

Along those lines, the Sustainable Business Council of Missoula publishes Holiday Gift Ideas for the Sustainability Minded. It offers the following preamble:

How do you participate in the holiday season and show your loved ones how much you care without violating your sustainability values?
• Model sustainability by giving gifts that are made or distributed using more sustainable methods and can be referred to as organic, natural, reused, recycled, local, energy efficient, non toxic, fair trade, hand-made, home-made, or sustainable in other ways.
• Give gifts that meet your loved ones basic needs for things such as clothing, food, or energy.
• Shift from giving "stuff" to giving services with gift certificates for a massage, dinner out, or other personal services.
• Or make donations to one of Missoula's great nonprofits in your loved one's name.

followed by six pages of suggestions from SBC member merchants.

John Kramer:

There is a Wal-Mart in Orange County, IIRC, so if you want to go to Wally World, I'd encourage you to go to Hillsborough rather than Durham to keep at least a few of the dollars in Orange County.

Does Chapel Hill, Carrboro and/or Orange County have a policy of giving preference to local individual/companies when contracts go out to bid? That should be another part of the "Buy Local" campaign. I'd also like to see a push to hire local residents when professional positions open up (see Lottery reports on how many highly paid professionals they intend to bring in from out of state). Wouldn't it be better to provide a bit of training for local residents (when feasible) rather than importing?

State law (and to some extent federal law) limits municipalities' ability to show preferences for local contractors.

Unless they used to work for the municipality ;-0!

Here's my "buy local" suggestion: send a tax deductible donation to YOUR community radio station, WCOM, 201 N Greensboro St, DOWNTOWN CARRBORO, 27510 or stop by the website to donate with a credit card.

Sorry for the shameless promotion, but it is a good cause in great need.

Stay tuned to 103.5!!


Another 'buy local' suggestion -- Internationalist Books at 405 W Franklin St. We have a small children's section and lots of great new and used books for non-children. (full disclosure -- I'm a volunteer and chair of the board)

Balloons & Tunes at 208 West Main Street / 967-3433 delivers gifts to underprivileged kids every Christmas. I just spoke with Sharon, who tells me they're still accepting contributions ($$$). This annual tradition of theirs is in its seventeenth year.

Chris Chapman:

Thanks, bud! I was there just the other day, shameless person that I am. I still think we should have one in Carrboro (preferred since I will soon be a tax paya) or Chapel Hill because if I am not mistaken some of the tax $$ would then go to the town. Methinks Chapel Hill blew it on the local Lowe's home improvement a while back...something about thinking they were in the town limits and then they weren't? My memory does not serve me perfectly.

People can hate Walmart all they want, but guess who was one of the first on the scene in New Orleans? I think they even beat the FEMA folks to the punch. Who hires local folks of all stripes? Go to a Wal Mart and you will find out. They are an easy target, to be sure, but they are no different than a lot of businesses trying to make a profit. Does anyone think Target et al are any different? Please!!

Drug companies regularly sell their souls, if you believe the press, to market a new drug. Some are getting sued over their behavior in fact. That's business for you.

So, vote with your wallet, folks, because I am going to. I just wish our local leaders could face the music and realize that not everyone has the luxury of purchasing things at a premium to support some agenda or other. And, if I have to burn a bunch of gas to drive to Hillsborough or Durham then more's the pity.



I am proud that my local leaders share my concern for the quality of life of its citizens. There are some values more important than getting the best price on a pair of socks.

I'll change my mind when Walmart starts building its stores underground, paying its people living wages, and become better partners in community building.

Until then, I will keep going to Roses at University Mall or the Dollar Store on Carrboro Plaza for my sundries.

Right. Dollar Store and Roses pay their people way more than Walmart, I am sure. And they have done heaps for their communities, right? Maybe I just haven't read the paper enough to have heard about all of their great works. Geez.

Our local leaders care enough about its citizens' quality of life that they have annexed the Rogers Road neighborhood to show how sensitive and caring they are- they are raising their property taxes 60% just to prove it!!!!

I'm going to be the fly-in-the-ointment here.

Having a convenient means of travel, I am happy to coast store-to-store and shop locally.

But I would speculate that most people living below poverty in Carrboro-Chapel Hill will make a one-time bus trip to Walmart in Durham and do most of there shopping there.

John a

I can tell you are still angry about the annexation issue, John. I hope in the end you feel better about it.

My point about the Dollar Store and Roses is that their environmental footprint isn't the same as having a Walmart. Walmart is predatory, has a bad reputation in the way they treat their employees, and doesn't care about the community.

Have you even considered the majority's point of view on this, John, or are you dead set on seeing it your way?

I would love to sit down and talk to you about this over lunch. I would like for you to understand why we love Carrboro so much, and why we don't want it to turn into just another ugly town full of self-interested citizens who care only about their bottom line and convenience.

Our town's leaders Do care. Give them a chance and you'll see.

John a,

I am a single father making my way through law school. No need for pity: I have a few days left before my days of poverty are permanently behind me.

Thing is, it's been a long, long time since I've been to Walmart for my shopping. I hope to go a long time before I do again.

David- walk in my shoes annexation wise and then tell me how you feel. Or, send me a check for $2,500 every year and I will shut the heck up!!!

Seriously though, if you want to see who is really going to be hurt by the annexation then walk, not drive, the length of Rogers Road. Then tell me I am wrong about the annexation being a bad thing.

It is so easy to hate Wal Mart. Too easy. They are not as bad a corporate citizen as some would have you think. For example, when I looked into providing free hookups for RVs that park at a local major medical center while getting medical care, I found out from the RV type folks that most Wal Marts provide free hook ups too. Is this because they are trying to whack the local campgrounds, or is it because they are trying to be good neighbors? What local campgrounds are they whacking? Are there any? None that I know of.....

I would say that the majority's point of view sits soundly on the side of "Walmart is okay". If this were not the case, we would not have two of them within a 20 mile radius doing a booming business. Like I said before, most people vote with their wallets. No one holds a gun to my head and tells me where to shop.

I would be happy to have lunch with you and discuss this further. Perhaps we both would learn something. Let me know when and where.

I have a some very good friends who have lived in Carrboro a long time. I am not a Carrboro hater. A lot of what Carrboro has and does is cool. I just think that priorities will change with the recent annexation. Now that I am a "tax paya" I am entitled to be vocal about this.

And, I must say that you have my respect and admiration for being a single parent. No small task in this day and time.

Thanks, John, for the kind words. It would be my honor to have lunch with you. When you are free, my email is ddm-at-duke-dot-edu. Just email me and let me know when.

Looking foward to it.


You can also get a great haircut for only $11 (adults) and $9 (kids under 10) at the Great Clips on West Weaver Street in Carrboro. While Great Clips is a national franchise, the business is locally owned and operated and the little house where it resides is also locally owned, too.

Interesting tidbit: I called the North Carolina Department of Revenue today and they confirmed that taxes generated by on-line sales (most major retailers on-line are starting to charge them) are treated as if the sale was made wherever the "ship to" address is located.

So, although I encourage everyone to shop local and use our locally owned and independent stores, if you are going to buy from a big retailer outside of our county lines buy online and get the tax money sent to our community instead of Durham.



That's interesting, Scott. I did not know that. I wonder if that really happens in practice?

I thought the CHN offered a balanced opinion on holiday shopping:

I'm really OK with sharing some of the wealth with Durham.

Like many people around here, I've lived and worked in Durham.

Through my work, I've spent a lot of time in the poorest homes in Durham city and county.

I also use the Museum of Life and Science often--- and I know Orange County gives no financial support to this museum (an interesting situation, given the amount of Orange County traffic through this museum and the museum's financial needs).

Bottom line, for many reasons I like supporting Durham too. This is not to say that I go out of my way not to shop locally. I always do my grocery shopping locally and I do shop at some of the local, over-priced stores if: a) they offer something unique, b) I know the store supports good causes, c) it's a special occasion, d) it's an end of season sale, or e) it's too inconvenient to go to Durham--- but otherwise, I don't feel compelled to try to do all of my shopping locally.


While Scott is correct technically, my understanding is that it is not quite as simple and straightforward. In fact, nothing about sales tax is simple or straightforward. Out of the 7% sales tax collected by the state on some retail products, 2.5% comes back to the county (per capita) and/or the municipalities (point of sales). 1 cent out of the 2.5 is reserved exclusively for school and capital projects BUT due to the inconsistent timing that money can't really be counted on for budgeting purposes (can be up to a year delay in transferring from state to local). So our budget offices lump it together with other funds and budget over 10 years. Then they spend a lot of time shifting around as a result of the distribution delays.

In terms of online sales, reporting is left entirely to the goodwill of the retailer. There is no tracking mechanism to allow Orange County to know that funds are due to them. There has been a federal bill addressing online sales tax collection under consideration for the past several years, but it never seems to make it out of committee.

After having spent a considerable amount of time trying to write a basic sales tax primer for the everyday citizen, I've given up (temporarily anyway). My feeling right now is that we spend more staff time trying to get and track the funds than we make from it. That's an exaggeration, but not much of one.

Bottom line: it's better to shop locally because the schools, the county, and the municipalities all get a portion of those sales taxes back from the state--eventually. Approximately 17% of Chapel Hill's budget comes from sales tax so the amount is substantial. We can do better though.

It's also true that if you shop at the Durham Walmart, you might be saving money at the register, but in the long run, you would pay less in property and school taxes if you shopped locally. That's why Carrboro's goal of increasing their commercial tax base is so critically important. We need to look at what types of products our citizens are buying online or out of county, and be sure that we have the local offerings to compete. Everyone in town will benefit if we can buy underwear locally for a reasonable price, and we don't have to have a big box store to accomplish that goal.

...but in the long run, you would pay less in property and school taxes if you shopped locally...

That is, if there's some fiscal restraint. Talking about fiscal restraint, anyone interested in a thread on the new stormwater utility?


Thank you very much. As always, you are a great source of information. If you ever write that basic sales tax primer, let me know.

I agree with you 100 % that we need to increase Carrboro's tax base. I have said it before: I want not only Walmart's business, but also Southpoint's as well. And you're right: we can do this without a big box store.

I have a slightly diferent view of shopping locally. It is related to the nebulous concept of "community". I don't really feel that county lines trump anything else when it comes to supporting local businesses. I'm more concerned with general social transformation than I am with securing another hundred thousand dollars for the public schools (which by their very nature and mission don't do all that much to further the kind of social transformation I support).

I support the Regulator Bookstore in Durham because it's a great locally-owned bookstore. I support out-of-county vendors & farmers at the Farmer's Market because I believe their livelihoods enrich the bioregion. I support businesses elsewhere in the country that may be doing more than just making a buck (like & Energy Federation Inc. in MA). I'll always buy something from an out-of-town business who basically supports the same kind of future vision that I do rather than buy the same thing from some cranky local business who doesn't.

I just went to the "State of the Durham Economy" today. Interesting stats:

Average retail sales per capita annually:

Durham County 21,292+/- (up 8 % over last year)
Orange County 11,878 +/- (up 0.3% over last year)
Wake County 20,189 (up 5% over last year)

Average retail vacancy in SW Durham County (the area that abuts Chapel Hill and captures CH shoppers

Part of my post was cut off.

retail vacancy :
SW Durham

Still cutting off. I'll try later.

I'll try one more time.

Retail vacancy
SW Durham less than 3% (area abuting Chapel Hill)
North Durham 7%
East Durham 22%

Lots of interesting stuff in that report.


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