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Mission & History

The mission of Cambridge Local First is to support, promote, and celebrate a “Local Economy Community” by educating the public and government about the significant environmental, economic, and cultural benefits of a strong local economy.

Company Overview

Cambridge Local First is a network of locally owned and independent businesses formed in October 2005 to build a strong economy and a vibrant community. Our one-of-a-kind businesses are an integral part of the distinctive character in Cambridge.


The History of Cambridge Local First, 2005 – 2008

In the spring of 2005 Frank Kramer (then owner of the Harvard Bookstore) and Simon Shapiro (owner of TAGS Hardware) began discussions about how to bring local Cambridge business owners together to promote local purchasing. At the same time, Laury Hammel (a Cambridge resident and the co-founder of the Business Alliance for Local Living Economies) asked to meet with Frank and Simon to discuss strengthening the local economy by forming a Local First network in Cambridge. The three of them met and agreed that the time was right to organize local business owners in Cambridge. As a result of this conversation, local entrepreneurs were contacted and invited to the founding meeting of a new business group in Cambridge, one dedicated to supporting the growth and development of locally-owned and independent businesses.

On July 14th, 2005 (Bastille Day), ten Cambridge business owners from around the city met and agreed to found Cambridge Local First with a mission of building a vibrant Cambridge community and a strong local economy. It was clearly an idea whose time had come, since things moved swiftly after the initial meeting. Within a few months, Cambridge Local First had grown to 40 members, had printed an attractive brochure, and the now-ubiquitous decals began appearing on business windows and doors throughout Cambridge.

In early 2006, the CLF Steering Committee elected Frank Kramer and Sally Lesser (of Henry Bear’s Park) to become CLF’s Co-Chairs, Michael Kanter of Cambridge Naturals as Treasurer, and Laury Hammel as Clerk. At the first anniversary party of Cambridge Local First (CLF), on July 14th, 2006, CLF members pledged to purchase $5,000 worth of advertising in the new CLF business directory. This investment gave CLF the seed capital to hire Karen Kelley as the first CLF Administrative Coordinator. Twenty thousand copies of the first CLF Business Directory were printed and distributed beginning in January 2007, and it listed 150 member businesses.

The Second CLF Business Directory was printed in January 2008 and included 240 member businesses. In 2008, Rachael Solem replaced Sally as a Co-Chair, and in the summer of 2008, Dan Meyers accepted the job as CLF’s Administrative Coordinator. Senta Burton (the Directory Administrator) and Dan worked closely together to create the Third CLF Business Directory which was distributed in November of 2008 and included 270 business members. Cambridge Local First is well into our fourth year of service and we have offered a variety of programs, workshops, and social events that have provided important services to locally-owned Cambridge businesses. These events have also brought CLF members together for networking and fellowship, and have often resulted in members doing business together. We look forward in the coming years to continue presenting dynamic and practical programs that meet the needs of locally-owned businesses and help to build a strong Cambridge and regional economy.

2008 – present coming soon!