Organic food growers preach it. Restaurateurs make the same point. Now some Princeton-based merchants are sounding the same cry: “Shop local,” says Nick Hilton, who has reached out to fellow Princeton retailers to promote a “shop local” collaboration. Hilton’s proposal: An informal group of shop owners who aim to cross market and help each other’s business.
And the operative word will be “owners.” Members would need to have a locally owned and operated retail store of the brick and mortar variety. Unlike other trade groups, such as the Princeton Borough Merchants or the Princeton Regional Chamber, this group will have no franchisees, no chain stores, no attorneys or lawyers or stock brokers — only real stores within Princeton Borough and Township.
“We need to let the community know how important we are to the community,” said Hilton at an “after hours” meeting in his Witherspoon Street men’s and women’s clothing store.
Some retailers, such as Fran McManus of Whole Earth, have experience at playing the “shop local” tune. Statistics show that 68 cents per dollar spent in a locally owned store stays in the community, versus 43 cents spent in a chain store, and zero cents spent on an Internet order.
Of the three dozen merchants that Hilton invited, six showed up, and they were eager to reach out to other shop owners to form the group. Represented were Rachel Reiss of Hedy Shepherd, Henry Landau of Landau’s, Mark Censits of Cool Vines, Louis Wildman of Jordan’s of Princeton, and restaurateur Jack Morrison of Witherspoon Grill, Nassau Street Seafood, and Blue Point Grill.
Hilton volunteered to coordinate the group for the first year or until it gets off the ground. Envisioning a very loose structure, he does not plan to charge any dues. To belong, a store owner need only agree with a mission statement. Any contributions, such as for shared promotions or contributions to a jointly sponsored charity, would be voluntary.