From the CEO: A Decade of Buying Nearby

Bill Hallan headshot
William J. Hallan, President and CEO

A circuit breaker failed at MRA world headquarters, causing my office temperature to plummet to the mid-50s during the coldest months of the year. A breaker replacement required a two-week lead-time, so I grabbed two space heaters to thaw out. Those lasted until I blew a fuse. I’m currently holed up in the MRA library – a time capsule of sorts and the quickest way to review the historical footsteps of the Association.

Michigan Retailers Association was established in 1940, and we’ve celebrated many anniversaries over the years. We’re excited to celebrate another one this year – the 10-year anniversary of our Buy Nearby program.

The original intent of the Buy Nearby program was simple, we wanted to create a program that would directly increase the sales of our members. By educating consumers about the power of shopping local, we hoped to move the needle on the migration to online shopping. It’s worth noting that the objective was never to halt online sales. Rather, the mission was to make consumer shopping more purposeful.

So, 10 years in, has the program been successful? Well, changing consumer behavior is not easy, especially when a global pandemic pushed even more individuals online. But even a small change has meaningful results, and we’ve had many highlights over the years. We created a mascot to be the face of the campaign, march in parades, and engage with shoppers of all ages. We commissioned economic surveys to provide concrete data to answer the question “why is it important to shop local?” We told the stories of our members, issued grants to downtowns, and disseminated our positive message through media buys.

By all accounts, the needle has moved, however, our work is not done. As we thaw out our office and anxiously await spring, the MRA team is busy planning Buy Nearby celebrations for 2023. Stay tuned to see what we have in store, as we make new footprints for the Association.