Winter 2011
Local Goods: Arcata’s Star Attraction By Madison Dapcevich

Local goods attract local shoppers. Find out how gift shops in 
Arcata, CA, are thriving by driving home the impact of buying local.

Arcata is a small seaside town located in Northern California, 280 miles north of San Francisco. Home to Humboldt State University, people from all backgrounds are attracted to the area because of its reputation as a socially and environmentally conscious community.

U. S. Census Bureau statistics indicate that the county has more working artists per capita than any other in California. This makes the “Buy Local” message relatively easy to implement in Arcata. Humboldt County artists and vendors supply storeowners with a whole host of locally made products including handcrafted redwood kitchenware, ceramics and pottery, sculptures, and paintings. In instances where local goods can’t be obtained, owners stock up on fair trade items ensuring that local economies around the world are sustained and fair wages paid.

Events throughout the year also help spread the “Buy Local” message. “Arts Arcata,” a celebration of local artists and vendors, takes place the second Friday of every month. Independently owned businesses throughout town host galleries for artists to display their work and offer free food from local farms.

The farmers’ market on Saturday mornings in the summer not only gives farmers a chance to sell their organic products, but also allows for other producers of local goods to showcase their merchandise. Booths around the plaza feature hand-sheared wool garments, fruits and veggies, kitchenware made of redwood trees and artwork.

The responsibilities of spreading the “Buy Local” message don’t rest solely with Arcata’s storeowners. Brenda Bishop, the executive director of the Arcata Chamber of Commerce, does her part to encourage residents to buy local by “visiting and supporting the stores that are independent, that are locally owned, locally produced.” Supporting her mission is the Organic Crop Improvement Association (OCIA Humboldt)—a group that educates producers and consumers about organic products. Finally, The Humboldt County Independent Business Alliance advocates for Humboldt’s independent businesses. It educates residents to build community support and organizes owners to bring down costs for local residents. The association is also responsible for publishing a directory of independent businesses that meet Humboldt’s “local” standards.

Some of the stores driving this socially conscious message are profiled as part of this article. GREENRetailer thanks them for their participation.

Madison Dapcevich

Madison Dapcevich is an aspiring writer currently attending Humboldt State University for Journalism and International Relations. She has worked for many media outlets including The Osprey Magazine, The Lumberjack, The Missoulian and HumbyTV. Her coastal home helps inspire creativity and she hopes to someday paint the world through her words. 

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