Back in 2009, the city caught some local heat when the mayor announced Buy Local Orlando, a window-sticker and membership-card merchant promotion intended to encourage Orlando consumers to patronize local businesses, as many were suffering the effects of the recent recession. The problem was that the city wasn’t able (or, possibly, willing) to distinguish between truly homegrown outlets and broader franchises (like Arby’s) and big-box retailers, because eligibility was merely contingent on having a tax ID within the city.
The initiative drew criticism from local business owners Julie Norris and Emily Rankin, who had already launched a more holistically local promotion called Ourlando in 2008, modeled after the Keep Austin Weird initiative in Austin, Texas. The city, at the time, was citing the same Texan source of inspiration, something the Ourlando group succeeded in challenging and eventually having removed from the Buy Local Orlando website.
“[The city] meant well with it. What they were trying to do was good,” Norris recalls. “But they have a history of, instead of supporting efforts that are already ongoing – grass-roots efforts with authenticity – they like to make it their own.”
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