New Study Presented at First-Ever National Summit of Independent Retail Advocacy Groups Identifies the Top U.S. Cities in Independent Retail

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Washington, D.C. January 20, 2011 -- A new study presented at the first-ever national meeting of leaders of independent, local, and community-based businesses has ranked more than 300 U.S. metropolitan areas according to the vitality of independent retail. The study reveals that Ocean City, NJ; Bellingham, WA; Medford, OR; Carson City, NV; and San Jose, CA, are the country's five most robust indie retail markets.

The study was released Tuesday at the inaugural Advocates for Independent Retail (AIR) National Leadership Summit, which brought together 50 leaders of national groups involved in local-first advocacy. Organized by the American Booksellers Association (ABA), AIR was formed to foster a national dialogue and cooperative efforts of the movement across business sectors. Attendees at Tuesday's summit represented more than 20 different types of retail businesses, from booksellers to pharmacies to sporting goods stores; other participants came from national initiatives including American Express' Small Business Saturday project, the 3/50 Project, Independent We Stand, and National Record Store Day.

ABA commissioned the Indie City Index in order to quantify the vitality of independent retail nationwide and to establish a basis for future research. Studies have already shown the robust economic benefits independent retailers provide their communities, and independent business advocates have long cited social benefits as well. Future, localized studies based on the Indie City Index will further examine independent retail and its relationship to American communities.

The strategic planning firm Civic Economics evaluated data for all 363 of the U.S. Census Bureau-designated Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs), ranking them in order of the percentage of retail sales generated by locally-owned, independent businesses compared to sales generated by retail chains.

Other MSAs behind the top five include: Barnstable, MA; Austin; TX; Dalton, GA; Glens Falls, NY; New York, NY; Santa Rosa, CA; Bridgeport, CT; Eugene, OR; Redding, CA; and Corvallis, OR. Complete results of the study can be found at

Another study presented at AIR shed light on the success of buy-local movements. Conducted by the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, the 2011 Independent Business Post-Holiday Survey found that retailers in cities with active buy-local initiatives had year-over-year revenue gains that were more than twice those of retailers in cities without such initiatives. The survey, which gathered data from nearly 2,800 independent businesses across all 50 states, found that independent businesses in cities with active buy-local or local-first initiatives had revenue gains in 2010 of 5.6% over 2009, compared to 2.1% for independent businesses in cities without such initiatives. The complete post-holiday study will be released by ILSR this week, and will posted on its website at

ABOUT THE AMERICAN BOOKSELLERS ASSOCIATION ( Founded in 1900, the American Booksellers Association is a not-for-profit trade organization devoted to meeting the needs of its core members -- independently owned bookstores with storefront locations -- through education, information dissemination, business products and services, and advocacy. ABA exists to protect and promote the interests of independent retail book businesses, as well as to protect the First Amendment rights of every American. The association actively supports free speech, literacy, and programs that support local and independent retail shops. A board of nine booksellers, representing thousands of members, governs the Association. ABA is headquartered in Tarrytown, New York.

ABOUT CIVIC ECONOMICS ( Civic Economics is an economic analysis and strategic planning consultancy with offices in Austin and Chicago. Since its founding in 2002, the firm has developed a diverse practice, covering a wide range of subjects from coast to coast. The firm has won prestigious national and regional awards for its work. Civic Economics has developed a notable practice niche in the economics of retail and service provision. In a series of studies dating to 2002, we have quantified the economic and community development benefits of a healthy independent retail sector, providing the intellectual underpinnings for a growing "shop local" movement. Our retail work has been the subject of countless media reports in publications and appears in more than 20 book length works on community and economic development, sociology, and urban design.

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About ABA

The American Booksellers Association, a national not-for-profit trade organization, works with booksellers and industry partners to ensure the success and profitability of independently owned book retailers, and to assist in expanding the community of the book.

Independent bookstores act as community anchors; they serve a unique role in promoting the open exchange of ideas, enriching the cultural life of communities, and creating economically vibrant neighborhoods.




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