JP Local First, a new nonprofit association for local, independent businesses, is being formed by the owners of City Feed and Supply and Red Sun Press. It will hold its first monthly meeting on Feb. 14.
The idea is to “build a network of locally owned and independent businesses,” said David Warner, owner of the City Feed market, in a Gazette interview.
The group is forming with the help of the Sustainable Business Network of Massachusetts, which has assisted in the formation of similar “Local First” organizations in such towns as Brookline and Cambridge.
Warner acknowledged that Jamaica Plain has several existing business associations and Main Streets organizations. But, he said, “None of them have made a [sole] mission of supporting local, independent businesses across the neighborhood.”
JP Local First aims to team with those existing groups. Betsy Cowan, executive director of Egleston Square Main Streets (ESMS), is on its steering committee, Warner said. Also involved in the planning is the Blue Frog Bakery, whose owner, Brad Brown, heads the Jamaica Plain Business and Professional Association and is on the JP Centre/South Main Streets board.
City Feed and ESMS previously were key partners in the local shopping “passport” promotional effort in recent years, where shoppers were rewarded for going to small businesses across JP. The social message to the effort was that local businesses are moe sustainable and more supportive of the community. Warner said that JP Local First likely will operate that kind of event and possibly create other annual promotions or celebrations.
“I would hope we build some tradition in the long term as solid as Wake Up the Earth and JP Open Studios and the Taste of JP,” he said.
For now, the organization will focus on creating a logo and other marketing materials, possibly including a business directory. An immediate goal is to file for formal nonprofit corporation status.
Many local businesses are already involved. JP Local First staged a preliminary meeting last month to gauge interest. An incomplete list of businesses that got involved includes Boing! JP’s Toy Shop, Canto 6, Fire Opal, Hatched, The Haven, JP Knit & Stitch, Latino Beauty Salon, Plaza Meat Market, Tres Gatos and Ula Café.
Any type of local, independent business is welcome to join. For more information about the effort and the Feb. 14 meeting, contact Warner at [email protected].