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Buy Michigan Now Experiment: GETTING STARTED

by Guest Blogger: Jennifer Berkemeier on Mar 31st 2010

My boyfriend Pat and I are big fans of Michigan, where we were both born and raised. I learned about the Buy Michigan Now campaign a couple of years ago at a networking event through my work at the Fillmore Theater. Since that time, I have tried to buy Michigan products and had found a handful of things I could buy that are made right here in our state. About a month ago I became curious if I could buy everything either from a locally owned business or buy all Michigan products, or a combination of the two. I asked Pat if he thought it was possible and he agreed to try it with me. Neither one of us knew what to expect.

The first thing we had to decide on was “What exactly is the best Michigan purchase?” We came up with a loose scale of zero to three stars, or zero to three Michigan Mittens, based on how much of the money spent stays in Michigan. Three mittens is the most beneficial purchase, which is buying a Michigan-made product, made with Michigan ingredients, from a Michigan-based store; that is the best way to keep the most money in Michigan. For example this could be a purchase of Cherry Jam made with Michigan-grown cherries by American Spoon and purchased from a local Michigan shop or the American Spoon shop itself. If that ideal scenario is not available, to get two mittens we need to purchase a Michigan-made product from a Michigan-based store. This could be something like buying Garden Fresh guacamole from your local Spartan store. To get one mitten we need to purchase at least a Michigan-made product, like Old Orchard Juice, or purchase any product from a Michigan-based company like ACO Hardware. Zero mittens means a purchase that meets none of the above criteria.  Pat and I kicked off our experiment on March 17, 2010.
March 17 – I need coffee! I am usually a pretty budget-conscious person, however if there is one thing I will splurge on it is coffee. One of the first things I do when I get up in the morning is make some coffee; I drink it black and I like it strong and interesting, or with a flavor, or imported or woodsy or from Central America…you get the picture. I work downtown at the Fillmore Theatre and needed to stop somewhere on my way home from work for my morning cuppa. I did an online search for Avalon, the local favorite bread store in midtown, gave them a call and asked if they had any Michigan-based coffee. She said they did and so on my way home I stopped and bought a pound of Mountain Country Organic from Coffee Express Company in Plymouth. 2+ mittens for this purchase; .5 miles out of my way to buy Michigan. 
March 18 – In need of some general groceries. Did online search and am AMAZED to find there are 26 Spartan stores within a 10 mile radius of my house. No problem on the groceries.
March 18 – Boyfriend Pat does his grocery shopping all at Meijer, and spends a little extra time looking at the labels. Is very happy to find that he can get many 2 mitten purchases by buying Kellogg’s, (Special K is a favorite), Meijer soup and string cheese.
March 19 – Am having trouble finding any info on line about Michigan-based gas stations, and I’m on E! When filling up at my local station, I ask the girl inside if this station is locally-owned, and she said yes. So I guess my gas purchase is a 1 mitten buy.
March 19 – I walk into work and seeing my boyfriend with a big cup of Biggby coffee makes me smile! 
March 19 – A great way to unwind – at a beer tasting and blues event! Attended the Blues Night Out at the historical Longacre House in Farmington Hills, put on by the Cultural Arts Division. All beer provided by Michigan-based store Meadow’s Party Store in Farmington Hills. What a selection at the tasting – over 60 beers! Many of them made here in Michigan. Purchased two selections, an Arcadia IPA and something else which is a secret for someone’s birthday. My Friday night entertainment and the things I purchased overall get 2+ mittens. 
March 20 – I run into a non-Michigan based convenience store and at the very least purchase a bag of Better Made chips; another 1 mitten purchase.
March 20 – I also needed to stop and get some lunch before driving down to work and switched my route so that I would drive by the Spartan store on Grand River in Redford. I bought four items, and two of them were Spartan brand. So half of this purchase is 1 mitten and the other half is 2 mittens. 
March 21 – I am out of food at home! Time for my weekly shopping. This time I add 5 miles round trip to shop at the Heartland Spartan store on 12 Mile in Farmington Hills. I make every attempt to purchase products from Michigan-based companies or the Spartan store brand; 40% of my total purchase qualifies for a 2 mitten purchase and the rest is a 1 mitten purchase.
March 21 – Purchases for birthdays coming up include a culinary tour at Taste-Full Tours for my sister, and coffee, coffee mug and snacks at Pure Detroit for Mom. First purchase is 3 mittens and the Pure Detroit are 2 mittens.
March 26 – I am very thirsty and decide to stop and indulge in a pop, which I don’t drink very often. When I do drink it, it’s an ice cold ginger ale. I stopped at my local party store, Andy’s at Nine and Middlebelt and bought a Faygo diet ginger ale; a 2 mitten purchase.   
March 27 – Family get together! To try something different I drive to Redford to Akroyd’s Scottish bakery and the 7 mile round trip is well worth it! I bring sausage rolls and homemade shortbread to the party. The main course is a homemade flat pizza from Strawberry Moon in Ferndale; also well worth the trip. Purchases all get 2 out of 3 mittens.
March 27 – Shopping for my monthly cooking club! My theme this month was Haitian; thought this might be a challenge but got all of the items on my list at the Heartland store except for the ripe plantains which Pat found for me at Busch’s in Farmington Hills. Many of the items purchased at Heartland were 2 mittens, the rest 1 mitten; the plantains were a 1 mitten purchase. 
At the end of the first two weeks I can say with confidence that buying Michigan is not that hard! It’s easier than I thought and I’m enjoying meeting new people, visiting new stores and sampling new products.  Overall about 45% of my purchases were 2 mitten purchases and the rest 1 mitten purchases. I spent about 10 minutes total online searching for Michigan-based stores, and drove about 15 miles total outside of my normal route. In the first two weeks I adjusted my regular schedule to accommodate driving to different stores and getting used to new routes; those were easy adjustments to make. 
I am looking forward to starting the next two weeks of the Experiment.   


User Comments (9)

This is so cool. We promote keeping it local and commend you on what you're trying to do. It's really hard. We're a coffee roaster in Jackson, MI with two retail stores. We offer FREE shipping on coffee orders on line. We'd love to send you a bag of coffee on us. Just our way of saying thank you for what you're doing. Keep it up. Jackson Coffee Co., Jackson, MI.
Please tell Jeniffer Berkemeier that Hiller's Markets sells an abundance of Michigan grown and packaged groceries and each shelf is marked with the familiar Green Mitten and shopping there saves money, too. Also, Better Made Potato Chips and other products are made in Detroit, Michigan from vegetables grown in Michigan, packaged in Michigan and made in vegetable oil manufactuered in Michigan. Better Made is Michigan personified!
If you would like to know about many local scrapbooking businesses in Michigan, check out our magazine "Michigan Scrapbooker". We have a list of local stores who carry our free magazine and many local advertisers who would love your support! We are on Facebook and our website is We also have helped start the Michigan Paper Crafts Association, which is also on Facebook!
This site is primarily focused on Michigan MADE products, of course, but buying from Michigan based clothing stores and hardware stores and so forth is FAR better for Michigan's economy as well, keeping a much higher percentage of each dollar recirculating - - - leveraging each dollar to it's maximum effectiveness. I like it that my spending decisions can make such a difference, but I don't believe that a very high percentage of people understand this AT ALL. So keep up the good work - - - all of us independant retailers appreciate it a LOT.
Great job. This is exactly what we are doing to help business grow and succeed here in MI See our entrepreneurial “Economic Gardening- Growing Michigan’s economy from within” . For further details on SBAM and Economic Gardening Or contact me at for more details
It's great that you took the time to carry out this experiment and to blog about it! We are a Michigan-made newspaper published by a Michigan, family-owned printing and publishing company of 9 weekly newspapers in Calhoun and Barry counties, J-Ad Graphics, Inc. in business for more than 60 years. Most of our advertising support comes from local merchants and together, we promote doing business with one another. It was nice to see at least two Battle Creek businesses, Kellogg's and Arcadia Ale on your list. Prairie Farms dairy products, Lay's Potato Chips, Joseph Campbell Co., Post foods and cereals, Ralston Foods, Dark Horse Brewery and of course, the Battle Creek Shopper News, the Marshall advisor&chronicle, Hastings Banner, and the rest of our papers are all Michigan products and businesses. We also print other locally owned publications and employ hundreds of Michigan consumers. No 100% Michigan made publishing company in these two counties can beat our door-to-door delivery market saturation of more than 150,000 papers delivered on Thursdays and Saturdays, meaning likely over 300,000 people see ads for Michigan products, companies, businesses and services. What a great website you have. Keep up the good work!
Jennifer and Pat! I love the fact that you're all about Michigan-made products...we must do more to promote our state and all that it contributes to our economy. Should a family member, friend or yourself ever need mobility assistance, Amigo Mobility International is a Bridgeport, MI based manufacturer of motorized power operated vehicles (scooters) for the walking disabled since 1968. Visit Mobility Center locations in Wixom, Grand Rapids or Bridgeport ( Good luck with your ongoing findings!
Thanks for keeping the buzz about Michigan-made products! Earth day is coming and our company has keychains with cool earth logos that also can be planted to grow into flowers and grasses! Support and celebrate the earth this April ( Go Michigan!
Greetings! This is a great beginning to assist me and others who have Michigan-Made products to offer. I am a Michigan resident, mother to 5, grandmother to 10, who has created a unique Baby 6-in-1 Baby Tote, the Tend-A-Tot. I look forward to promoting Michigan-Made products and encourage everyone to go to Buy Michigan Now and do their searches. I am amazed at how much Michigan has to offer in the way of products and produce, not to overlook the natural beauty, making it a great place to live, visit and do business. Elizabeth of Punim Products, LLC

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