By Julie Lawrence Special to Published May 19, 2009 at 11:31 AM Photography: Whitney Teska

It was a week just like any other -- until a collection of determined entrepreneurs formed Our Milwaukee, an organization of nearly 100 local, independent businesses aimed at raising awareness about the positive impact of local shopping and showcasing the goods and services that make Milwaukee special.

Now, the week of May 18-24 is known as Our Milwaukee Week, a seven-day celebration of our community's unique character. It's also a good opportunity to boost Milwaukee's economy.

"When you shop at a locally-owned store or business, for each dollar you spend 68 cents stays local. When you spend that same dollar at a chain store only 14 cents re-circulates in our community," says Lisa Malmarowski, Our Milwaukee's marking committee chair and the director of brand and store development for Outpost Natural Foods, an Our Milwaukee member.

To encourage the trend of local spending, several participating Our Milwaukee businesses are offering specials, deals, and discounts this week celebrating the buy local movement. There's an anniversary sale at Laacke & Joys, discounts at Sprecher Brewery, free delivery at Spring City Flowers, free coffee at Café Hollander and more deals all across the city.

Click here to see the full list of local promotions.

"Locally owned businesses do more of their business with other local businesses and the people that work at locally owned businesses live in their community," adds Lisa Malmarowski. She refers to local businesses as the glue that holds our city together.

"I often think of New Orleans and the rebuilding effort that is still underway. When everything was lost, the big box retailers pulled out of the community, but you know what, the local businesses didn't have that luxury and didn't want to, and those were the first businesses to open back up and provide goods, services and community meeting places for the people who stayed and came back to rebuild. Local is the heart of a city."



Julie Lawrence Special to staff writer Julie Lawrence grew up in Wauwatosa and has lived her whole life in the Milwaukee area.

As any “word nerd” can attest, you never know when inspiration will strike, so from a very early age Julie has rarely been seen sans pen and little notebook. At the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee it seemed only natural that she major in journalism. When offered her an avenue to combine her writing and the city she knows and loves in late 2004, she knew it was meant to be. Around the office, she answers to a plethora of nicknames, including “Lar,” (short for “Larry,” which is short for “Lawrence”) as well as the mysteriously-sourced “Bill Murray.”