May 17, 2013
Last week was SFMade Week, a seven-day celebration of San Francisco’s local manufacturing sector. Attendees toured factories, donated money, and learned about the retailers who sell locally made products.
Another champion of the maker community is Localvore, a marketplace for locally made, artisan manufactured goods from San Francisco and Northern California. From cinnamon oat soap to paisley print bags to LED belts, their products are connecting residents to the creative people around them.
Below, CEO Cameron Kramlich talks more about the trend of buying local.
Tech Cocktail: What is a localvore?
Cameron Kramlich: A localvore is someone who supports their community by shopping local. This means eating food grown nearby and buying products made nearby.
Tech Cocktail: Why do people want to buy local?
Kramlich: People deeply desire an authentic and genuine connection to the food they ingest and the products they savor. Consuming close to the place of production not only creates a unique sense of attachment to a product, but the multiplier effect also serves to turbo-charge the local economy.
Tech Cocktail: Is this a recent trend?
Kramlich: The success of big-box and online retailers in the 1990s and 2000s disintermediated small and medium-size brands without the scale to sell millions of products. I’m a big fan of Costco in no small part because it is designed to carry local products like IT’S-IT Ice Cream or Swank Farms tomatoes at half a dozen stores, while keeping the scale that allows organic Earthbound Farm salad to be accessible to everyone. With its “treasure hunt” items, it proved that significant demand exists for artisan products.
What has changed recently is that sites like Pinterest and Kickstarter leverage the social graph to enable customers to find and fund innovative products without passing the gatekeepers at traditional retailers and media companies.
Tech Cocktail: Why are the startup and maker communities so intertwined in San Francisco?
Kramlich: San Francisco has always attracted non-linear thinkers who love to solve big problems. I would argue that the best engineers and entrepreneurs are amazingly creative people whose canvas is software and business, respectively. Status here is predicated on solving the most interesting problems, as opposed to selling a million records in LA or chasing the most awesome gnar at Tahoe.
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