I recently had the opportunity to speak with Amanda Converse, the CEO of Love Live Local, which is an organization dedicated to promoting shopping at local businesses. Although she now works in business, originally Amanda’s Cape Cod home inspired her love for the environment and her interest in advocacy. Born and raised in Falmouth, she remembers when the Waquoit Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve opened up close to her and released data showing the poor quality of the water. This motivated Amanda to major in environmental studies for her undergraduate degree and get a Master’s in environmental policy from George Washington University. After living in Washington, D.C. for ten years she returned to Cape Cod and now lives in Barnstable.
When Amanda returned to Cape Cod, she made a career switch and began working for the Hyannis Main Street Business Improvement District. “It was my first time working with small businesses and realizing how much advocacy help they need and awareness that needed to be raised around the fact that they give so much to this community,” Amanda explained. “Their dollars go back into the community on a much larger scale than their corporate competitors, and I felt like people needed to know that because they’re really under threat.” She combined her business experience with her environmental-consciousness to open a boutique in downtown Hyannis with all eco-friendly home goods and clothing. Around this time Amanda met CARE’s director and founder Jill, who was still developing the idea of CARE and was seeking help to get it started. Amanda felt their two missions naturally fit together and joined CARE’s original founding advisory committee.
Amanda and her two friends, Jen Villa and Kate Sheehan, were also inspired to start their own organization. They noticed that there was not an emphasis on the opportunity available to young professionals on Cape Cod or on shopping locally and decided to change this, leading to the founding of Love Live Local. According to Amanda, “Love Live Local is a community advocacy organization with a focus on communicating the importance of shopping local and supporting small businesses.” They aim to connect consumers to local businesses they can patronize.
Love Live Local helps promote local businesses in three main ways: through its shopping guides, its in-person shop, and its Love Local Fests. The Love Local Field Guide is published three times every year and aims to give people an authentic view of Cape Cod. It is not a member organization and anybody, either a Cape resident or visitor, is welcome to read it here on Love Live Local’s website. Love Live Local publishes its Gift Guide around the holiday season to provide ideas of where to shop locally for gifts. It also has a retail store in downtown Hyannis that sells products from local makers and brands.
This is Love Live Local’s tenth season of hosting its Love Local Fests, with fests held on July 31st, September 25th, and December 3rd this year at Hyannis Village Green. The first Love Local Fest started with 30 vendors, but it has now expanded to 80 this year with a waitlist to get it. Amanda said, “It just goes to show that Cape Cod’s residents and visitors and second homeowners are connecting with not just the event—and the event is really fun—but with what it stands for and that means a lot to us.” The Love Local Fests are free, open to the public, and feature Cape Cod makers, artisans, artists, farmers, entertainment, and local businesses. You can learn more about the upcoming Love Local Fests here.
Love Live Local also produces research as to why shopping locally is so important. It has found that local retailers and restaurants return two to four times the amount of money into the local economy than their corporate competitors. “We can anecdotally say, oh, these are our friends and neighbors. You should work with them. You should shop with them,” Amanda said. “But it really does make economic sense as well, which is part of the messaging.” This aligns with CARE’s Shop with CARE campaign in August, which is part of its 10th Anniversary celebration and involves partnerships between local businesses and CARE.
With her history with CARE, Amanda also sees the connection between it and Love Live Local. She explained, “Both of us organizations are very much strongly about preserving the sense of place that we have here. Yes, the small businesses are a huge part of that sense of place. But it’s the natural environment and our cultural attractions as well. All of that stuff gives Cape Cod an incredibly strong sense of palace that we want to preserve and enhance if we can.” She encourages people who share CARE and Love Live Local’s mission to start thinking local first. Love Live Local is happy to offer advice on how to do that, and you can always start with its Love Local Fest, retail store, or publications.