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Tech Cocktail Portland

Maine Startup Buoy Local Encourages Portlanders to Buy Local

buoy local

We’ve all seen the push in recent years to buy local. Whether it’s food, products, or services, locally owned businesses help the economy grow and keep small towns and cities thriving. One startup in Maine is aiding in this cause by encouraging consumers to spend locally through the use of a gift card.

Buoy Local is a Portland, ME-based startup that offers a community-based gift card enabling shoppers to buy from a number of select businesses (and only at these select businesses) in and around Portland. It is considered an “open loop” gift card since it is not tied to one specific business.

Statistics show that for every $100 spent in locally owned businesses, $73 stays in the same city or town. This is compared with only $43 of every $100 spent at non-local businesses in the same city or town. Oh, and it should go without mentioning that $0 of your well-spent Amazon Prime money is re-circulating around your town.

Founder Kai Smith moved back to Portland after several years in Washington, DC. After his return, he realized an opportunity to impact the local community that he loved so much.

“Sometimes you have to move away from a place to understand how truly special it is. After living in Washington, DC, for four years, I happily returned to Portland in 2008. Friends are often jealous when I say I’m back in Maine. Whenever someone returns they are always amazed at the city’s growth.”

This lead to Buoy Local, whose main mission is to to help consumers spend locally and grow Greater Portland’s economy.

Portland is not the first city to offer an open loop gift card. This buy local model is also being seen in other cities such as San Francisco, Boulder, and Portland, OR.

Buoy Local was featured at Tech Cocktail’s first-ever Maine Mixer and Startup Showcase.

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About the Author'

Kristin is an archeologist by day and budding entrepreneur by night who is enthusiastically navigating her way through the DC startup space. She has an unending passion for learning and is never satisfied with the status quo. She is currently reading her way through all of the classics she should have read in high school.


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