By Lawrence Grown

Imagine yourself in another town, full of chain stores and strip malls. What are the forces that grow one type of city or another? Zoning is certainly a major factor. Another is response to the desires of the locals. What kinds of companies do the residents support? What types of businesses do you want to see thriving in Berkeley?

While you’re out celebrating our Nation’s Independence, celebrate our local independents too! This article is about Berkeley’s independent businesses, the institutional structures that support them, and the promotions they create.

Berkeley has always had an independent spirit, the free-thinking drive to do things differently. Berkeley is known across the world for starting powerful trends like the Free Speech Movement, the disability rights movement, and the California Cuisine/Farm-to-table movement. Berkeley was the first city to have a curbside recycling program, a polystyrene/styrofoam ban, and a soda tax. The spirit behind these initiatives permeates the business community today. Berkeley has a plethora of thought leaders and unique local businesses you won’t find anywhere else.

Beginning around 2001, a national trend sprung up to support local businesses. Organizations such as AMIBAMain Street Alliance, and BALLE/Common Future helped foster small organizations across the country, and campaigns such as Shop Indie Local. Events like Plaid FridaySmall Business SaturdayCider Monday, Independents Week, and Manufacturing Week, along with our own Buy Local Berkeley, grew out of this movement… READ MORE.

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