Portland Buy Local is on the brink of starting a rebranding campaign that could result in a new logo, website and vision for the 13-year-old organization. Contributed photo

PORTLAND — Now more than a decade old, Portland Buy Local wants to help its members navigate the ups and downs of the local commerce scene in a better way.

Portland Buy Local was formed to “tell the story of local businesses and make sure the community understands our local and independent businesses and the value these businesses bring to our community,” Executive Director Mary Alice Scott said.

That remains the mission, but a rebranding campaign in the works will help the organization stay relevant for its members, Scott said.

“We feel like we are doing some really good work spreading why local businesses are so important. Now we want to find out what our local businesses need from us in terms of what’s next for the organization,” she said.

The rebranding, she said, could result in the organization doing more advocacy, a desires members expressed in a survey last year, and more Portland Buy Local events.

The Portland Buy Local campaign, part of a movement nationwide, started in 2006 when 20 business owners came together to form the Portland Independent Business and Community Alliance. The group today includes close to 400 members across Portland.

Josh Rogers, founder of Heritage Seaweed, a retail shop on India Street that sells ocean-based specialty goods, was excited to be part of Portland Buy Local even before his business opened in summer 2018.

“The (Portland Buy Local) sticker was like a badge of distinction to me going back to its founding. I’ve always been proud of Portland’s strong independent businesses; we’re not like a lot of other cities,” Rogers said.

The organization, he said, should refresh its mission and rebrand because “it’s clear to everyone that our city has undergone a decade of radical transformation. National chains and certain commercial property owners have put a squeeze on locally owned businesses.”

Rogers said he would like the organization to be more active politically and increase its outreach to consumers with “the intention of not just winning minds, but also hearts and habits.” He also suggests it could work to educate visitors about Portland and what it has to offer.

“It’s shocking how many travelers choose Starbucks and CVS and Urban Outfitters over locally owned, and much cooler, options,” he said.

Scott said the rebranding effort includes hiring a consultant to collect feedback from businesses and community members. Portland Buy Local may also develop a new logo, marketing materials and website.

“The first phase may inform the second and third phases. People often think of rebranding as just a new logo, which probably will happen, but it can also mean a renewed focus on key tenants. We want to hear from our stakeholders and community members,” she said.

She hopes to have the first phase completed by the end of winter.

Scott said every dollar spent at a local business is 3½ times more likely to stay in the community than if it was spent at a chain or a big box store. Communities with a strong local business scene, she said, have more social capital and civil engagement, a more robust middle that is more resilient to economic downturns.

“We are reinvesting in out communities by shopping locally,” Scott said.

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