ABA Pre-Winter Institute Conference to Focus on Local First/Shop Local Initiatives

Printer-friendly versionPrinter-friendly version

The American Booksellers Association is inviting booksellers participating in established Local First campaigns and those who want to learn more about these community-focused initiatives to an important day of independent business alliance (IBA) education, just prior to the Fourth Annual Winter Institute (Wi4). On Thursday, January 29, ABA members will have an exceptional opportunity to learn from some of the most experienced leaders in the IBA community who will share their experiences creating and sustaining successful programs during the ABA Pre-Winter Institute Conference on Local First/Shop Local Initiatives at the Salt Lake City Convention Center, directly across from the Marriott, in Salt Lake City, home to one of the most well-established and successful Local First efforts in the country.

The full-day program will open with a welcome by Salt Lake Mayor Ralph Becker, who will also join with indie bookseller Betsy Burton of The King's English, a leader in Local First Utah, to offer their firsthand experiences of the community's Local First efforts from the points of view of business and government, respectively. Stacy Mitchell, author of Big Box Swindle: The True Cost of Mega-Retailers and the Fight for American's Independent Businesses (Beacon) and senior researcher for the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, will provide an update on the challenges and opportunities facing IBAs.

The conference's morning workshops will be targeted toward booksellers' levels of experience with Local First campaigns. One session will cover the basics of starting an IBA, and the other will address best practices of well-established IBAs. After a lunch event with community-focused author Terry Tempest Williams, a general session will focus on how to broaden the appeal and value of an IBA so that governments and other institutions will want to support and sustain it. Following the afternoon session, there will be an optional visit to a prominent Salt Lake independent business, Rico Mexican Market and Catering, which began with a $10,000 microloan and grew into a multimillion-dollar enterprise. The day will conclude with the Wi4 Opening Reception at Sam Weller's Zion Bookstore, from 7:00 p.m. - 9:00 p.m.

Space at the ABA Local First/Shop Local Conference is limited, so interested booksellers should register as soon as possible. ABA member bookstores and provisional members can register on the Wi4 registration form on www.BookWeb.org by checking the box for the Pre-Winter Institute Conference on Local First/Shop Local Initiatives. Members who have already registered for Wi4 and now would like to add registration for ABA's Local First/Shop Local Conference can do so by sending an e-mail to Wi4@bookweb.org with "Pre-Institute" in the subject line.

ABA Pre-Winter Institute Conference on Local First/Shop Local Initiatives Schedule


8:00 p.m. - 10:00 p.m.: Welcome Reception & Dessert Party

Conference participants are invited to a welcome reception/dessert party at The King's English. Transportation from the Marriott to the bookstore, which is about 15 minutes away, will be provided.


9:00 a.m. - 5:30 p.m.

All sessions will take place at the Salt Lake City Convention Center, which is located directly across the street from the Marriott. Transportation will be provided to and from the 3:30 p.m. - 5:30 p.m. visit to Rico Mexican Market and Catering.

9:00 a.m. - 10:00 a.m.: Welcome

Remarks and Welcome by Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker

Remarks by Stacy Mitchell, author of Big Box Swindle (Beacon)

Remarks by Betsy Burton, co-owner of The King's English and Local First Utah activist

10:00 a.m. - 10:15 a.m.: Break

10:15 a.m. - 11:45 a.m.: Morning Workshop
The morning workshop session will be divided into two tracks: ones for communities with an established independent business alliance (IBA) and one for communities without an existing organization.

For Established IBAs
The Ten Best Things We've Done in Making Our IBA a Success

Hear from the leaders of some of the most successful IBAs across the country.

For Communities Without Existing IBAs
How to Take the First Steps and Get Started

Different membership models will be examined; whether one should organize as a 501(c)(3) or a 501(c)(6); how to set up an organizing meeting; and more.

Panelists include Laury Hammel, Jeff Milchen, and booksellers from established IBAs. Hammel is the owner and president of Longfellow Clubs, a group of four New England health and recreation clubs established in 1980; co-founder and co-chair of the Business Alliance for Local Living Economies (BALLE); and author of Growing Local Value (Berrett-Koehler). Hammel has also been the prime organizer of more than a dozen IBAs across the country. Milchen is a co-founder of the American Independent Business Alliance (AMIBA) and was the first executive director of the Boulder (CO) Independent Business Alliance, which is widely recognized as one of the first IBAs in the country.

11:45 a.m. - Noon: Break

Noon - 1:30 p.m.: Lunch

Lunch will feature an IndieBound slideshow and presentation and remarks by Terry Tempest Williams, author of Finding Beauty in a Broken World (Pantheon, October 2008).

1:30 p.m. - 1:45 p.m.: Break

1:45 p.m. - 3:30 p.m.: Afternoon Workshop

Establishing Critical Connections: How to Broaden the Appeal and Value of Your IBA So That Governments and Other Institutions Will Support and Sustain It

One key factor for success with IBAs is their sustainability. Building a strong critical mass of local business partners and linking the Local First movement to local, county, and state governments and other partners and investors has been a key ingredient for Local First Utah. Local First Utah has also made a strong connection with the growing local food/slow food movement. Booksellers are invited to join a panel of government and business leaders who value and support Local First Utah.

Moderated and facilitated by David Nimkin, the Southwest regional director of the National Parks Conservation Association. Nimkin is co-founder and vice chair of Local First Utah, and founder and long-time board chair for the Utah Microenterprise Loan Fund. He has also served as a chief of staff to Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson; was a partner at Confluence Associates, a private firm engaged in sustainable development projects throughout the Western U.S. and Mexico; and served as state director of the Utah Small Business Development Centers.


  • Salt Lake County Mayor -- Peter Corroon
  • Salt Lake City Council Member -- Soren Simonsen (District 7)
  • Utah State Director of Tourism and Local First Utah Board Member -- Leigh vonderEsch
  • American Express U.S. Banking, Vice President/Center for Community Development -- Jane Shock
  • Local Business Leader and Local Food Purveyor - Steven Rosenberg, Liberty Heights Fresh

3:30 p.m. - 5:30 p.m.: Optional Visit to a Prominent Salt Lake City Independent Business, Rico Mexican Market and Catering -- www.ricomarket.com

Starting with a small $10,000 microloan from the Utah Microenterprise Loan Fund, entrepreneur Jorge Fiero began selling beans at a local farmers market. Rico's is now is a multimillion-dollar enterprise with a wide range of products sold on-site and an ever-growing network of retail outlets. Fiero has expanded and also operates a successful catering services.

Booksellers are invited to join Fiero (who is also a board member of Local First Utah) as he shares stories of his success and his remarkable commitment to community and his employees. Round-trip transportation will be provided from the Marriott to the Rico warehouse production facility a few short blocks away, where participants will be able to sample some of his fine products.