By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great local journalism.
Forsyth First, foremost
Purchasing locally can 'make cents'
Big Frog Tees 3 es
Trish Moynihan makes a custom-designed T-shirt on Tuesday at Big Frog Custom T-shirts & More in Cumming. The business is taking part in Forsyth First, an effort that encourages residents to shop locally. - photo by Emily Saunders
On the Net

For more information on the Forsyth First program, go online at or

As shoppers begin their holiday gift buying, Forsyth County leaders say the economic downturn has made it more important than ever to buy locally.

The Forsyth First program, which the Cumming-Forsyth County Chamber of Commerce launched last November, aims to help.

|It encourages businesses and shoppers to buy locally to help businesses and bring more tax revenue into the county.

Our community is at stake,” said Kris Carroll, chamber spokeswoman. “Buying locally gives you the power to vote with your pocketbook for our community, our businesses and our residents.

“Your decision to buy local creates Forsyth County’s success.”

With Forsyth’s budget shortfall and a 12 percent drop in sales tax collections, county commissioners have shown strong support for the chamber’s program and even developed their own plan to encourage local shopping.

Commissioner Patrick Bell said the county’s plan, with the slogan: “It just makes cents” is a takeoff on the chamber’s “Buy locally succeed locally” slogan.

While the chamber’s plan also encourages businesses to buy from one another, the county will primarily target residents.

“We want to let people understand that when they spend money here, they’re making an investment in their county,” Bell said.

He noted that many residents may shop in another county on their way home from work, not knowing that three of every 7 cents collected in sales tax goes directly to county government and local schools.

“That is giving money to other counties,” Bell said. “I’m not trying to be a bad neighbor, but we have to think of our local businesses and our local funding in this terrible time we’re in.”

The commissioner said it’s not always about the retail offerings or price but rather convenience, which is why awareness of the Forsyth First campaign is so important.

Bell said it’s “just the conscious effort” of not stopping off in another county on the way home.

“I think sometimes it’s a convenience issue,” he said. “I think we can find what we want right here in this county and at the same price. We just want to make sure people understand that shopping at home means a lot.”

Having been in business just four months, Big Frog Custom T-shirts & More co-owner Trish Moynihan said she’s becoming a Forsyth First business for the exposure.

Businesses that sign up through the chamber can participate in a coupon program, where deals and coupons will be listed on the chamber’s Web site for those looking to shop and do business in the county.

“I want to support the community,” Moynihan said. “And I want the people who live in the community to also support the community and to keep the money here — whether it’s revenue dollars or sales tax dollars, just to make our community stronger.”

Carroll said about 30 businesses like Big Frog have signed up for the program.

The coupons provide incentives for people to shop locally, she said, but it’s also a reminder that shoppers don’t need to leave the county to get good deals.

“Anything you want or need, we’ve got here,” Carroll said.

Two decades ago, the retail dynamic was much different.

“Historically, Forsyth has so been underserved by retail that, because of a lack of options, people developed buying habits that took them outside the county,” Carroll said.

“But over the last 10 to 15 years, as we’ve grown more retail businesses and more choices, there’s no reason for people to continue that. So it’s just a matter of retraining their habits.”

Moynihan’s store sits along one of the busiest local retail corridors, Market Place Boulevard.

To her, the county has “pretty much everything you can need.”

“I don’t think anybody needs to go anywhere else,” she said. “I don’t think that the public realizes that when they go somewhere else, how it can impact their own community.”