This is what “local” looks like, clockwise from top left: Bookmans Entertainment Exchange, Monsoon Market, Independence Bowl at Let it Roll Bowl, Noble Beast, and Practical Art at the Local First Arizona Fall Festival (photos courtesy of Local First Arizona).

Whether you need an ice cream cone, a dry cleaner (to remove the evidence from your shirt), an accountant to figure out how to eat said ice cream well into your retirement years, or a place to eat that ice cream, chances are that the map of Local First Arizona businesses will be your new best friend. The nation’s largest locally owned coalition is right here in Arizona. It started in 2003 and now numbers nearly 3,000 businesses and 1,000 individuals with strong ties to the local scene.

And the events, classes, services and celebrations are more diverse and bigger each year for Indie Week.

Indie Week 2024

Celebrated from the last Friday in June through the first week of July (June 28-July 4 this year), during Indie Week Local First Arizona encourages first timers and returning customers to explore the small, independent businesses across Arizona. Visit for information.

Pictured: Local businesses, such as AZ Lemonade Stand, can thrive when residents “shop local” (photo courtesy of Local First Arizona).

Local First Arizona was founded by entrepreneur, business leader and community development specialist Kimber Lanning in Phoenix to support and promote local businesses. The organization now has a staff of 30 in four offices throughout the state and is known for its work to strengthen the Arizona economy through workshops, advocacy and efforts to increase diversity and inclusion. Programs include healthy local food access, entrepreneurial development in underserved communities and rural community development.

Lanning, founder and CEO, spoke of why she founded Local First Arizona. “I’m the kind of person, when I see something that is unjust, I am motivated and inspired to change it. This is my home, this is my state, and I want to leave it better than I found it. So, I’ve dedicated my life to building a better Arizona.”

As Lanning saw her beloved state grow, she saw its local entrepreneurs and the local communities sometimes taking a back seat to out-of-state interests. So, she started investing her time and talents into developing the “hometown pride” that fueled Local First Arizona’s early years and has shot it to the top of the nation’s “local first” movement. Lanning and her staff often are consulted by those in other parts of the nation seeking to develop and strengthen their own local economies.

As she explained it, success starts with small steps anyone can take.

“Shifting even a small amount of our personal spending to local businesses can make a huge difference,” said Lanning. “Studies show that for every $100 spent at a local business, $45 stays in the community, while only $13 stays local when you buy at a chain store. For every two jobs that a big box store creates, three jobs are lost from local businesses.”

North Phoenix resident Sal Stone explained what shopping local means to her. “It’s as easy as purchasing a household item from a local business instead of Amazon. Celebrate your friend’s birthday at a locally owned restaurant. Use a local accountant instead of a national firm. My kids know where the local eateries are and that’s where they want to go to celebrate their good report cards.”

Alyssa Prewitt, business coalition director at Local First Arizona said “There’s no better way to celebrate Independence Day than by visiting one of your favorite locally owned businesses. Whether you’re stocking up on drinks at Monsoon Market, shopping for a new summer outfit at Cave & Post Trading Co. or treating your pup to a Fourth of July toy from Noble Beast, your dollars circulate through the central Phoenix economy more when you shop locally.”

Shifting even a small amount of personal business to local businesses can make a huge difference, but what defines a local business? The organization’s leadership acknowledges that many Phoenix residents own local franchises of national or regional brands, and that local businesses grow and expand outside of Arizona. Also, national corporations are headquartered in Arizona and do business worldwide. But Local First Arizona defines local businesses as businesses that are locally owned and operated here, within the state.

Leadership of Local First Arizona and its members ask that Arizonans consult its membership directory, its website and its member map when choosing a business to support. Visit

“You’ll find some really cool places to eat, shop and explore. You might even find a cool local accountant to do those pesky taxes,” said one.

Independents Bowl 2024

Originally launched in 2008, the Independents Bowl makes a return this year Saturday, July 13. Hosted at Let It Roll Bowl, a locally owned bowling alley at 12th Street and Dunlap, the ninth somewhat-annual event raises funds and community support for Local First Arizona.

Started by local concert promoter Steve Chilton of Psyko Steve Presents, the event attracts local bands, bowlers and “independent minded citizens.” Participants are guaranteed a “dang good time” and are urged to register their four-person team now at


  • Trudy Thompson Shumaker

    Trudy Thompson Rice is a registered nurse and public affairs professional. She holds degrees in Journalism and Nursing from the University of Texas, and is licensed in Arizona as an RN. She is an officer in the Arizona Information Officers' Association, is a graduate of the FBI Citizens Academy and is past president of Phoenix International Association of Business Communicators.

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