Think Local First

Each one of us has an important role to play in creating a vibrant community and healthy economy that works for all of us. Our everyday decisions have powerful impacts, especially when it comes to the businesses we support. There are many ways to be a localist but the simplest is to start with a commitment to always think local first. Think Local First makes it easy to find what you need locally, celebrate the place we live, and put what matters most first. Keep your dollars where your heart lives, support your community, and build an economy that works for everyone by choosing local first!

Find Local Businesses

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

Local Gift Guide

We’ve taken the guesswork out of searching for the perfect gifts from locally owned businesses!

Holiday Hangover

Keep thinking about local businesses after the holidays to help invest in a future that works for us all!

Local Coupons

Access tons of local coupons on your phone through the Chinook Book app!

Local Gift Cards

Email local gift cards to anyone, anytime with Whatcom Gift Cards!

Over 400 Local Members

Running your own business can be overwhelming! We understand that small 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.

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, thought. Learn more about the studies that have been done and 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, $43 remains in the economy.


Fewer automobile miles

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

Many don’t realize that “small” business is actually really big, and getting bigger.

Local isn’t just a place on a map. It’s people: your neighbors and their families, their businesses, farms, nonprofits, events, and recreational venues.

By sourcing more products and services locally, we are voting with our dollars every day to live in a state that values self-reliant local communities that offer opportunity and prosperity for all.

Annual Promotions

Celebrate your Independents!

For the whole month of July, we celebrate local, independent businesses. By making the choice to support local businesses we are also supporting local jobs, supporting the variety that keeps our place interesting and fun, keeping more of our money recirculating right here in our own cities and towns, reducing environmental impacts, and supporting businesses that give back.

Think Local for the Holidays

This may be the number one way to enjoy your holiday shopping! Find the perfect gift and strengthen our community all at the same time. Peruse welcoming and unique shops with knowledgeable staff, maybe with a pastry from the bakery down the street! Feel good about getting that one-of-a-kind gift for your special someone while supporting our neighbors and local economy all at the same time. It beats the long lines and crazy crowds hands down!

Local Champions Blog

Our community is full of local champions. Learn about the people behind your favorite local businesses and how they are putting community first.

Cloud Mountain Farm Center

Growing Community Through Education  By Alex Smith September 2019 We all know that good food is important. Eating well is one of the most beneficial things you can do for general wellbeing. We don’t all eat well all the time, though. There are a number of reasons why,...

Late to the Party

Late to the Party

These and other like-minded businesses found a way to stay true to their values and find success and profit in spite of market forces perpetuated by the very same Business Round Table who now has had a change of heart. How long this change of heart will last, I’m not sure anyone really knows. Shareholders are already starting to revolt.

The Future of Food Recovery

The Future of Food Recovery

Thanks to the participating businesses, volunteers and agencies receiving the food we have recovered over 51,000 pounds of food, with over 47,000 pounds of that food redistributed to hunger relief agencies, who in turn served over 39,000 meals to members of our community experiencing hunger insecurity. That is no small feat!

A special thanks to our lead sponsors

City of Bellingham
Village Books & Paper Dreams

Silver Sponsors

Samuel's Furniture

Bronze Sponsors

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