SOUTH PORTLAND — The South Portland Buy Local organization plans to celebrate a successful inaugural year with a gathering at the Snow Squall restaurant.

More than 180 local businesses from South Portland and Cape Elizabeth have joined over the past year, and its organizers are very pleased. 

Liz Darling, a member of the South Portland Buy Local advisory board, helped organize the group more than a year ago. She said they officially launched the campaign in March of 2010, but it took about a year to get moving. Since then the organization has attracted close to 200 members.

“We are pretty much on target,” she said.

In order to keep the campaign fresh, she said members of the board visit local businesses in the two communities to spread the word about the organization. She said it is important to get to know the businesses owners personally.

“In today’s economy more and more people are looking to shop closer to home,” Darling said. “Out of every $100 spent in the community, $45 stays here.”

She said supporting local businesses benefits the community by providing local jobs and opportunities for residents. 

In addition to the inaugural celebration on June 14, the group plans to participate in the local banking campaign Move your Money to encourage residents to use locally owned, Maine banks and credit unions.

Darling said locally owned banks have a more personal relationship with their customers.

“They know you and are more willing to work with you,” she said.

Dani Nisbet, president of the South Portland Buy Local board of directors, said she is expecting a large crowd on June 14. Nearly 230 people attended the kickoff event last year, she said.

“It has taken us a year to get our infrastructure in place, but now that the website is up and running and the directory is complete we can focus on our next steps,” she said.

Plans for the future include business-after-hours social gatherings and a community education campaign, she said. Members will also receive a business directory listing the Buy Local participants. The directory will be mailed to nearly 13,500 residents in Cape Elizabeth and South Portland and will be available at local businesses, hotels and motels. 

The public is invited to the event on Tuesday, June 14, from 6-8:30 p.m. at the Snow Squall, 18 Ocean St.. There will be business displays, food and beverages from members of the organization. 

For more information, visit South Portland Buy Local on Facebook or visit

Amy Anderson can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 110 opr [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter: @amy_k_anderson.

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