Submitted by Sustainable Connections

Every July, Sustainable Connections joins together with local alliances, organizations, and partners to celebrate Independents Month, a month-long celebration of independent businesses throughout Whatcom County and the value, economic growth, and spirit they bring to our community. 

Local businesses are one of the biggest generators of wealth in the community — each dollar spent at an independent business returns three times more money to the local economy compared to one spent at a chain.1 Local businesses also tend to give twice as much to community causes and nonprofits,2 and when compared to online conglomerates, they create two times as many jobs for the same amount of revenue.3 Towns that have more local businesses also experience more social cohesion4 and less income inequality.5 In addition, the shorter transit routes and bulk ordering that bring goods to the consumer via local businesses also mean less packaging and mileage, minimizing waste and carbon emissions, and creating less air and noise pollution.6 

Red, navy, and light blue rocks labeled “Think Local First” for the Independents Month Rock Hunt lie under a bush at a local park. Photo courtesy: Sustainable Connections

“For all these reasons and more, we invite the community to shop at the vast array of wonderfully unique retailers, restaurants, and businesses in Whatcom County, and commit to shopping local this month,”  says Amy VergilloSustainable Connections Communications Manager. “By shopping local, you’re supporting the vitality and quality of life in our community.”   

For the second year, Independents Month will include a Think Local First Rock Hunt with prizes starting Wednesday, July 1. An abundance of red, navy, and light blue rocks have been hidden at parks throughout Whatcom County. Attached to each rock are simple instructions for winning a $20 gift card to a local business — just post a photo of the found rock on social media with the hashtag #thinklocalrocks. 

Gift cards from local businesses like Backcountry EssentialsCamberCiao ThymeElizabeth Station, Infusion Cuisine, Mallard Ice Cream, Prime Sports Institute, and Village Books & Paper Dreams will be participating in this year’s Think Local First Rock Hunt, and other independent businesses are encouraged to participate by signing up on the Sustainable Connections website at  

Independent businesses have felt the effects of the COVID-19 crisis and have heard the call for social justice in our community, just as we all have. Local businesses are taking care of their employees, sharing their resources, creating new solutions and partnerships, and standing up in solidarity for the lives of our neighbors. Independents Month is an opportunity for us to show our support for independent businesses, and invest back into our community. 

Independents Month and Sustainable Connections’ Think Local First campaign are sponsored by the City of BellinghamCopy SourceFairhaven Runners & WalkersLithtex NW Printing SolutionsMt. Baker Care Center & Summit Place Assisted LivingVillage Books & Paper Dreams, and Whatcom Educational Credit Union

What: Independents Month & the Think Local First Rock Hunt 

When: Throughout the month of July 

Where: Whatcom County parks and public spaces 

Details: or 

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