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‘Buy Local Marketplace’ slated to aid Reno merchants

NNBW staff

As Sharon Spangler walked door to door in commercial districts to drum up interest in Reno’s first Buy Local Marketplace, she discovered an unexpected problem.

Many of the city’s smallest retailers, the ones that might gain most from a buy-local event, are so strapped for resources that they can’t simultaneously keep their stores open while they staff a booth at the marketplace.

But enough of them have found a solution often, neighboring shops are combining forces for the day that the city government expects between 80 and 100 businesses to participate in the marketplace on Nov. 3, says Spangler, a community relations program manager with the city government.

City Councilwoman Sharon Zadra, who spearheaded organization of the event, hopes for as many as 5,000 consumers to attend the marketplace at the National Automobile Museum.

With more than a week remaining for retailers to sign up in a time to be shown on the marketplace map, participating businesses range from Eastern Slope Publishing, which develops books about Nevada history, to Punk Rock Squirrel, a retailer of baby blankets and home goods.

Artists from Reno also will be displaying their work for sale.

Merchants pay a $25 fee to participate. (See http://www.reno.gov for sign-up details.) Consumers will pay a $2 admission, which will be waived for those who donate two cans of food.

Zadra says the event is designed to provide support for local businesses that continue to struggle through the recession. City officials say that a shift of 10 percent of consumer spending to locally owned business would generate $350 million a year in sales for local firms.

Along with the immediate sales generated during the marketplace, Zadra says the event will help create exposure for locally owned businesses.

As the city encourages residents to buy from locally owned stores during the holiday season, Zadra also hopes that consumers will widen their thinking about potential gifts during the season.

For instance, both the Reno Aces and the Reno Bighorns are expected to participate in the Buy Local Marketplace, and Zadra says tickets to games during 2013 might make a good gift for a sports fan.

City officials considered development of a Buy Local Marketplace before the 2011 holiday season, but decided to wait a year rather than rush their planning.

Spangler said the promotional efforts this year included a mailing encouraging businesses to participate, followed by door-to-door visits.

The city staff also made arrangements with nonprofits that will provide gift-wrapping services as a fundraiser during the marketplace, and arranged for entertainment from groups such as the Damonte Ranch High School cheerleaders and the Young Chautauquans.

A shuttle will provide transportation to the National Automobile Museum from the Washoe County parking lot at Court and South Virginia Streets.