Portland Buy Local’s seventh annual Indie Biz Awards event at Space Gallery was a pep rally of sorts for local-minded businesses that make Portland unique and the people who support them.

“It makes me proud to say that ‘buy local’ is now cool,” said Tony Cox, president of the Portland Buy Local campaign and owner of Casco Bay Frames. “What we really want to do is keep Portland the way it is: Independent.”

Portland Buy Local gave the 2014 Best New Business award to a group with a mission and focus very close to its own: Buoy Local.

Founded by Kai Smith and Sean Sullivan just before the last holiday shopping season, Buoy Local is a community-driven “buy local” gift card that covers 85 businesses in Portland.

“This award means a lot to Sean and me because it was voted on by the community, and what we’re trying to do is provide value to the community,” Smith said.

The first Buy Local Beacon award went to Stacy Mitchell, author of “Big Box Swindle: The True Cost of Mega-Retailers and the Fight for America’s Independent Businesses” and a founder of Portland Buy Local.

Though the rest of the Indie Biz Awards were voted on by the community, the businesses that won in various categories have obvious links to the buy local movement.

“We’re a local business ourselves, and we’re out supporting our local breweries, distilleries and wineries – keeping it all local,” said Zach Poole, co-founder of Maine Brew Bus and winner in the Out of Sight, Not Out of Mind category for businesses without a storefront.

“What we’ve tried to do over the past 10 years is connect farms to community,” said John Naylor, co-owner of Rosemont Market & Bakery, winner in the Portland Icon category.

Maine Surfers Union, named Best New Business in 2013, won the award for Portland’s Best Kept Secret.

Local Sprouts was honored in the Flavor of Portland category. Space Gallery was named Artistic Leader.

Hero awards went to Garbage to Garden for Environmental Hero, Portland Trails for Community Hero and Karma Fair Trade for Global Hero.

Each of the 45 nominees was featured in a video clip by Strongpaw Productions, which many considered to be the highlight of the event.

Amy Paradysz is a freelance writer and photographer based in Scarborough. She can be contacted at:

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