Think Local First

Each one of us has a duty to our community, to help create and sustain a vibrant place to live, work, and play. We can create thriving communities through even the smallest of everyday decisions — especially when it comes to the businesses we support. With a simple commitment to always think local first,  we can create a wide ripple of impact.


Think Local First makes it easy to find what you need locally, celebrate where you live, and put what matters most first. Keep your dollars where your heart lives, support an economy of friends and neighbors, and build a community that thrives by thinking local first!

Find Local BusinessesPurchase Local Gift Cards

Annual Promotions

Check-in, earn points, and win prizes with Whatcom County’s only Coffee Crawl.

Find local wellness providers to help you beat the winter blues with our Winter Wellness Guide.

From April 15-May 15, sandwich lovers across the region vote on their favorites in the Sandwich Showdown.

Celebrate summer in style and support local businesses with Drink Local First.

Tools & Resources

Gift a Whatcom Think Local First Gift Card, redeemable at over 270 locally-owned businesses in Whatcom County!

Shop with your values and support your friends and neighbors in our community with this Local Business Directory.

Inclusive communities are stronger when we all work together. Learn more about Inclusive Economy Scholarships for businesses.

Local lovers all over are invited to visit numerous locally owned businesses around Whatcom County with the Think Local First Passport.

Why Buy Local?

“Local, independently owned businesses are creating quality jobs and stronger communities everywhere, at a faster clip than large corporations. Beyond that, each dollar that is spent with a local business has a multiplier effect as it recirculates within your community — creating more quality jobs and greater stability as more of your family, friends and neighbors benefit.

We’ve all seen it happen. Big box retail stores come into smaller markets, mom and pop businesses close down, vibrant and unique retail stores give away to sprawl and sameness.

Once economic action turns local, trends begin to reverse. Sustainable quality jobs begin to return to communities. Communities once again become hubs for commerce and innovation.” – Balle

Why Local Matters

Small-scale, locally owned businesses create communities that are more prosperous, entrepreneurial, connected, and generally better-off, across a wide-range of metrics. Don’t just take our word for it, though. Read the research and see for yourself why local matters.


Net New Jobs

Up to 90% of net new jobs in the U.S. are created by locally owned businesses.


Remains Here

For every $100 spent at a locally owned business, $68 remains in the economy.


Fewer automobile miles

Residents of neighborhoods with the most local businesses log 26% less automobile miles.

Join Hundreds of Local Members!

We understand that local businesses are the heart and soul of our community. Businesses like yours are the landmarks that create a sense of culture, and provide unique experiences that make locals proud to call the Pacific Northwest home. From our resources for small business owners, to our broad network of like-minded entrepreneurs, you’ll find the support you need at Sustainable Connections.

Show your local love

Show your love of local with custom “Think Local First” and “Drink Local Frist” Merch! Suuuuper soft cotton-polyester blended fabrics are sure to keep you comfortable and stylish! Don’t need another tee shirt or mug, but still want to support local? Consider a Think Local Frist donation, gift card, or browse our online directory of locally-owned businesses before running to that big box store or ordering from an online giant.

Many Thanks To Our Think Local First Sponsors:

Cascadia Daily News
Bellingham Whatcom County Tourism
Mt. Baker Care Center & Summit Place Assisted Living