By Jenna Duncan, GMVS correspondent

{mosimage} In a Valley Viewpoint question this summer, one participant said that buying local was fresher, healthier, and that she liked supporting the community. Buying local is still all of those things, but now it's cheaper as well. GMVS senior Tik Root wanted a way for the people of The Valley to buy local without having to spend more than they would at a chain store. So, he developed the Mad River Valley Local Discount Card. The card gives discounts at participating stores, allowing small businesses a shot at competing with the Wal-Marts of the world. The discounts are numerous and varied, but each offers something from a local merchant.

The idea came from Middlebury Union High School, where sports teams would sell discount cards each school year. However, these cards were created in part by larger, McDonald's-like businesses. Root's idea avoided interaction with corporations. The card's conception stemmed straight from The Valley, so that's where the idea was kept.
"The common misconception is that shopping locally will break the bank. It gets tiresome to hear people justify shopping at big stores or up in Burlington just because the price is slightly less," Root said. He won't need to hear the excuses for much longer.
The small businesses of The Valley got on board with the card quickly, and now 30 participants have agreed to accept it. These include stores such as Pure Snowboard giving 10 percent off or a free cup of coffee with a gas fill-up at the Village Grocery. Buying local is, of course, a boon for the small businesses of the community, but now it benefits the user as well.

The card can be purchased at the Chamber of Commerce office for $10. It can be bought through PayPal and is managed by the Mad River Valley Chamber. It can be picked up in the chamber office in Waitsfield after the payment has been accepted.

This card purchase is good for a year of local savings, and the proceeds from the purchases are split. Thirty percent goes to the GMVS Garden Club, 30 percent to Harwood's Project Graduation, 10 percent to the chamber of commerce, and 30 percent to Native Energy, a group out of Charlotte, VT, from which carbon offsets will be purchased in the name of the Mad River Valley. (The money goes to promote renewable energy projects.)  

A poll on www.madrivervalley.biz asked, "What do you think about the local discount?" The most popular answer was, "Greatest thing in years!" This support is what Root has been so excited about. "The support has been awesome and I hope to see it continue as the idea grows," he says. As Root's project grows, he hopes the amount of local buyers in the community will too.