The Buy Young Initiative Encourages Young Entrepreneurs and Consumers

SUSIE GHARIB: There’s a movement under way to encourage consumers to spend money at companies led by young people. It’s called the “Buy Young” initiative. Anna Olson has details.

ANNA OLSON, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT CORRESPONDENT: What do this butcher shop, gourmet ketchup line, and woven belt company have in common?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Card wallets, coaster sets.

OLSON: They’re all run by people under age 30 and they’re all part of a new movement aimed at getting customers to buy products from young entrepreneurs. Matthew Segal, who runs a non-profit called Our Time, started “Buy Young” earlier this summer.

MATTHEW SEGAL, PRESIDENT, OUR TIME: This is about getting young Americans to support the young businesses, the underdogs, to help them grow, and continue to create jobs. It’s truly our response to the economic crisis facing young Americans.

OLSON: So far, about 50 businesses are taking part in the effort. Once they sign up, companies are featured on the Our Time Web site, which offers 30 to 60 percent discounts on merchandise.

One of the “Buy Young” businesses is Smathers & Branson, which makes these needlepoint belts.

PETER SMATHERS CARTER, SMATHERS & BRANSON: There’s a lot of time and thought that goes into the quality, to the actual stitching, to the design.

OLSON: Peter Smathers Carter co-founded the company with his college roommate after both of them received needlepoint belts from their girlfriends. Now, seven years later, their products are in 700 high-end boutiques and department stores.

Carter says “Buy Young” is helping spread the word to new customers.

CARTER: The sheer number of people they have on their emailing list was incredible exposure for us, and we’ve had some incredible orders come in online from that.

OLSON: In fact, Our Time says companies are seeing as many as 200 additional sales per day as thousands visit the “Buy Young” site. Segal says people like what they’re seeing and thinks the movement could result in more cause-conscious consumers. Many of these products, like clothing made out of recycled content or non-toxic nail polish, are designed with health and social issues in mind.

SEGAL: I think this will be a values-based buying movement, and I think it will be a true forum and platform for economic empowerment for this generation.

OLSON: And customers can expect to see many more young entrepreneurs on the site soon. Our Time says it plans to add hundreds of new companies to its roster in the coming months.

Anna Olson, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT, Washington.

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