Seriously. Because when you do, you’re buying a better future for yourself, your colleagues, your community, your kids.
That’s part of the gospel according to Sandy Anderson. She’s executive director of Buy Idaho, a Boise-based nonprofit that’s mostly soared under North Idaho’s radar for the past quarter century. Anderson is eager to put her organization to work for North Idaho, and she spent several days here in mid-March to make that point.
“I had some great conversations, especially with the three chambers,” Anderson said of her outreach meetings with chamber of commerce leaders from Post Falls, Coeur d’Alene and Wallace. “I was a little disheartened that we aren’t well known up north.”
Through networking, cross-promoting, trade shows and other methods, Buy Idaho has been pushing its members’ services and products since its 1986 inception. Anderson, whose focus has been growing membership since she took the executive director’s helm last October, points out that Buy Idaho has membership programs for businesses and associations of every size and flavor. Membership costs — go to http://buyidaho.org/joinbuyidaho.htm or call (800) 743-9549 — are based on the business’s annual revenue.
Members learn pretty quickly that there’s value in Buy Idaho.
“We do a lot with smaller businesses that need our help in networking and getting word out,” Anderson said. For instance, she talked about the success of one of Buy Idaho’s most devout members, Sandee’s Candee’s — creator of
“Spud Fudge” and other specialty products that taste a whole lot better than they might sound.
“She’s been with us for 23 of the 25 years we’ve been in existence,” Anderson said of the Salmon-based business. “That marketing really got her into a lot of stores and specialty shops.”
The trademarked Spud Fudge, by the way, is a creamy fudge that uses potatoes to replace a third of the sugar normally found in fudge.
A little closer to home, the Coeur d’Alene Casino is a Buy Idaho member, and so is Wild West Log Furniture in Coeur d’Alene.
“It’s a great program — we’ve used their logo in our ads in The Press,” said Carol Folda, who owns Wild West Log Furniture with her husband, Clay. “We joined because we’re trying to promote ‘American made’ and buying local.”
Having been members for a year, Carol said she and Clay aren’t certain how much that membership specifically has helped them.
“It’s hard to track how much business comes directly from that,” she said.
To boost businesses’ exposure, Buy Idaho has a showroom in Boise that attracts nearby conventioneers. The showroom is packed with booths and displays from members who not only can make business-to-business connections, but can help drive tourism throughout the state, Anderson said.
Trade shows take place statewide, and as recently as last February, the Capitol rotunda in Boise hosted over 100 Buy Idaho members who had tables displaying their wares. The location not only helped all those businesses network, Anderson said — in many cases, government officials became aware of products and services that government could either purchase or help network further around the state.
“We’re about promoting Idaho businesses,” Anderson said, with Buy Idaho’s focus on helping businesses sell products and services in state and nationally, but not internationally. “When you do that you create jobs, you reinvest in the state — you keep dollars here versus across state lines, which I know is important to people in areas like yours.”
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