The New Green: Sustainable renovations and urban agriculture news — GoLo
By Steve DiMattia
Historic neighborhoods can be sustained in many ways, from preservation to legislation. One of the easiest and most accessible is to “GoLO” or Go Local – patronize locally owned, locally operated businesses.
“When you shop in historic neighborhoods you not only support the local economy but you also promote sustainability because many of these businesses operate out of older buildings that might otherwise have been torn down,” said Sarah Marie Johnston, marketing director at Bistro AIX and member of GoLO Jacksonville, an initiative designed to support locally owned, locally operated businesses (called LOLOs) by informing and educating consumers. “Shopping locally really helps keep these historic neighborhoods alive in so many ways.”
Neighborhoods like Riverside, Avondale, San Marco, Murray Hill and Springfield virtually challenge you not to GoLO because they offer so many unique shopping and dining experiences within walking distance from each other. The Riverside Arts Market, King Street Farmers Market and Jacksonville Farmers Market on Beaver Street offer a variety of local food and retail vendors in one spot. Throw in The Cummer Museum of Art and Gardens and Sun Ray Cinema in Riverside or the San Marco Theatre and Theatre Jacksonville in San Marco and it is easy to build a day trip around entirely LOLO businesses.
“Our historic neighborhoods’ business districts have really grown to have a nice mix of interesting retail shops, special entertainment and great watering holes,” said Mike Field, local banker, Fairfax resident and neighborhood renovation advocate. “I think once people get out to the different areas they are not only pleasantly surprised but it also instills some city pride.”
To help spread that pride and financially support local businesses, Field, along with his girlfriend, Caron Streibich, co-founded a dynamic series of monthly events called Jax Cash Mob. Modeled after a growing national phenomenon that began in Buffalo, NY in August 2011, the Jax Cash Mob is based on three simple steps:
1. Learn about the Cash Mob event via Facebook or word-of-mouth and then bring friends and meet the organizers at a specified LOLO restaurant.
2. Once there, a nearby LOLO retail business will be identified and all participants walk together as a peaceful mob where each person spends $10 to $20.
3. After shopping, everyone returns to the restaurant for good food, drink and socializing – and more spending to support a second LOLO.
“The call to action is what sets the Cash Mob apart,” said GoLO’s Johnston at the June Cash Mob event at The Write Touch and Pizza Palace on San Marco Square. 80 other participants who spent $2,200 at the store and an additional $470 at the restaurant joined her.
“It provides a nice economic boost for the businesses and is just a great social event,” said San Marco Merchants’ Association President George Foote. “I will definitely encourage people to participate in other Cash Mobs in other neighborhoods.”
Locally owned businesses reinvest about 65 percent of their revenues back into the community compared to 33 percent by chain stores, according to Field. He and Streibich have also organized mobs Downtown at Chamblin’s Uptown/Burrito Gallery, in Avondale at Green Man Gourmet/Mojo4 and at King Street Farmers Market attracting over 200 people for a total input of well over $5,000 since April. The mob will visit Springfield on August 4. The events cost nothing to put on because they are promoted strictly through Facebook and word-of-mouth.
“A lot of stores, like the Green Man Gourmet in Avondale, carry locally produced products, so the impact is multiplied – not only are you helping the retailer, but you’re also supporting other local businesses,” said Streibich. “Also, surrounding stores often offer discounts the day of the event. It all sort of feeds on itself to keep the neighborhoods strong, vital and relevant.”
Go to http://www.facebook.com/jaxcashmob for more information, updates and to offer suggestions about where future Jax Cash Mob events should occur.
For a video of Mike Field talking about the benefits of Go Lo at The Write Touch/Pizza Palace event, go to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hYtfwPoeVo0&feature=player_embedded. Visit the GoLO website at www.golojax.com or their Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/pages/GoLO-Jacksonville/177419488939518