Oakland Grown is an organization for independent local businesses and artists in Oakland. Shopping locally is one of the best ways to keep money local—shopping at a locally-owned business keeps an average of 73¢ of each dollar in the local economy versus 43¢ of each dollar spent at a non-locally owned business. To make shopping and gift-giving locally even easier, Oakland Grown is creating a new gift card.
Gift cards have grown increasingly popular because they make gift-giving easier. No more wrong thing, wrong color, wrong size, because the recipient gets to pick it out. But gift cards can be impersonal: "I care about you enough to get you something—go get something from this generic big-box national retailer." The Oakland Grown gift card gives the recipient flexibility, but at the same time says "I care about you, and I care about the city we live in and its people, too—support a local, independent business." If you enjoy shopping or exploring Oakland, you could even join your friend or loved one to see what they choose.
Oakland Grown is starting with a small pilot program, with a few dozen Oakland merchants participating, but they're planning on scaling it up in time for the holidays. And if you're wondering, the company powering the card is an Oakland business, too. The list of businesses accepting the card includes restaurants, salons and a variety of stores, and is growing weekly.
Besides buying and using the cards, there are other ways to support the card. First, you can provide seed money to help get the program started. Second, encourage your favorite Oakland businesses and artists to join Oakland Grown and register to accept the gift cards.
And yes, they're using a stylized version of one of my old sign photos, the heart on East 12th. I also used the photo in my recent Oakland Local article on banking locally, put your money where your heart is.