Free Tax Prep Office Hours

Are you prepared for the stress that tax season brings? The City of Cambridge is partnering with Cambridge Local First (CLF) to help ease your tax worries!

On February 23, 2016 you can meet with a professional tax and accounting consultant for free. These tax prep office will take place at 344 Broadway, in the 2nd floor conference room from 3-5 PM. The appointments will be free of charge and confidential. But these sessions are limited in quantity and are first come first serve, so book now! Schedule your free half-hour appointment before they run out!

The tax professionals include CLF members Alamir Hajiani of Hajiani CPA and Carole Bellew from Bookkeeping Plus More.


Book your appointment before they're gone!

Plastic Bag Ban: Q&A Session

With the plastic bag ban fast approaching and a $300 daily fine for violations, it is important that businesses have a plan in place. Many local retailers are still unsure about sales tax and exemptions, and some restaurants still do not know how this law applies to them.

Get answers to these questions and many more at a joint Q&A session with city officials. We will discuss what you need to do to stay compliant, as well as how you can file for extensions and exemptions. We will also have a list of compliant vendors for attendees. 

The Q&A will take place at the Lombardi Building, 831 Massachusetts Ave, Basement Conference room on January 20 from 10-11AM. This is a FREE event, however, space is limited so reservations are required.

Register Today

This is a FREE event, however, space is limited so reservations are required.

CLF bids farewell to Board Member Gerry Wolf

Cambridge Local First was founded ten years ago by a small group of local and independent business owners who were passionate in their belief that our businesses are in large part responsible for giving Cambridge its character, uniqueness and economic strength. Although most of our founding members remain on our Board, a few of them have either retired, sold their businesses to new local owners or found it necessary to move on for personal reasons.

So it is with some sadness and significant gratitude that we must bid farewell to Gerry Wolf, founder and former owner of  the 1369 Coffee Houses in Inman and Central Squares, now Cambridge institutions. Although he remains personally dedicated to our goals, Gerry has decided that it’s time for him to retire from our Board. As treasurer and Chair of our membership committee he has been one of our strongest contributors. His business wisdom and focus on the fulfillment of our mission has kept us on target as we have grown from our humble beginnings to our present citywide recognition as spokesman for 380 locally owned businesses. Wherever he has seen a need, he has offered and put in his own time and effort to help us get it done. Gerry’s sound thinking and humor will be sorely missed.






38,000 Local Businesses and Independent Business Advocacy Groups Launch “Shift Your Shopping”

This is a guest post by Laury Hammel, Executive Director of the Sustainable Business Network and Former CLF Board Member

On November 14 the 5th annual Shift Your Shopping holiday campaign launches the 2015 season, encouraging individuals and businesses to “shift” more of their visits for holiday shopping, entertaining and dining to local independent businesses. More than 180 local business organizations across the U.S. and Canada, collectively representing more than 38,000 locally owned and independent businesses, are participating in this collaborative campaign.  The campaign continues through December.

Shift Your Shopping was created five years ago by Cambridge Local First and Somerville Local First and its mission is to “build a tradition that strengthens local economies, expands local employment, nurtures a sense of community, and provides a more relaxed, fun, and rewarding holiday shopping experience.”

Grassroots groups like Monadnock Buy Local, the Louisville Independent Business Alliance and others will execute campaigns with their own local flair, using Shift Your Shopping templates as well as incorporating campaigns like Plaid Friday and Cider Monday (pro-local antidotes to the chain-centered Black Friday and “Cyber Monday”).

The campaign also encourages people to employ the energy and resources of Small Business Saturday as part of season-long outreach.

When even marketers whose business is promoting Black Friday report that 79% of their website users don’t like to shop on the day, you know the times are changing! Jen Risley, Executive Director of Monadnock Buy Local, a New Hampshire advocacy group notes that “Shift Your Shopping promotes the community-centered alternative to the consumer frenzy that descends upon us each November.”

The website provides a gateway to resources from many community campaigns and includes easy-to-use graphics and activities that allow participants to spread the critical message easily where they live.

A 2015 National Retail Federation survey projects $805 in holiday spending per person this year and sustained “buy local” campaigns have demonstrated their capacity to shift sizable portions of that spending from chains and remote businesses to local entrepreneurs.

Earlier this year, the Institute for Local Self Reliance gathered sales data from more than 3000 independent business. That data revealed independent businesses in communities sustaining year-round “buy local and independent” campaigns run by grassroots groups saw revenues grow 9.3% in 2014. That nearly doubled the 4.9% increase for businesses in areas without such an alliance (see graph for survey results over 3 years).

Becky McCray of Small Business Survival said, “We can opt out of the crowds, and choose when we want to spend our money with local businesses that support our family and community throughout the holidays instead.”

Jeff Milchen, co-founder of the American Independent Business Alliance, adds that, along with creating local jobs, “We also want people to patronize independents for selfish reasons – enjoying the more relaxed and personal experiences at their local merchants and perhaps connecting with neighbors while doing so.”

See for stories of pro-local campaigns, templates for easy customization, and the roster of participating organizations.

Shift Your Shopping co-sponsors include Small Business Survival, Independent We Stand, Shop for Good and the American Independent Business Alliance.


Harvard Square Cash Mob – Small Business Saturday

A Cash Mob will be crowding the Harvard Square on Small Business Saturday, Nov. 28, 2015. Cambridge Local First will ask Cash Mob shoppers to pledge to spend a minimum of $10 at local businesses that day. 

Cambridge Local First (CLF) will be in Brattle Square Plaza during 10:00 am-2:00 pm, to hand out shopping maps to let people know where they can shop, eat, and support locally. This map will feature local business’ deals and sales. The first 200 shoppers will receive a complimentary Cash Mob tote bag. The shoppers supporting the most local businesses that day will be able to enter a raffle giveaway for a $100 gift card to Cardullo’s. The Cambridge Community Chorus will be performing at 11 am. This event is graciously sponsored by CLF member, Nift.

Cambridge Local First invites the Cambridge community to do their holiday shopping by supporting local business. CLF encourages everyone to shop locally and remember that, when you chose a local business, nearly every dollar you spend in your city, stays in your city.

About Cambridge Local First
Founded in 2005, Cambridge Local First is a non-profit network whose mission is to build a strong Cambridge economy and a vibrant community. Cambridge Local First advances this mission with several campaigns throughout the year including its annual business directory (now in its 10th edition), events such as the Cash Mob, the CLF Community Card, business improvement seminars, and educational materials on the benefits of choosing local first.

About Small Business Saturday®
American Express founded Small Business Saturday® in 2010 to help business owners with their most pressing need – getting more customers. Today, the nation has embraced the day as part of the holiday shopping tradition. Shoppers, businesses, government officials, local organizations, and corporate partners come together to celebrate their neighborhoods on the Saturday after Thanksgiving.

Saturday, November 28, 2015 from 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM (EST) 
Brattle Square Plaza (In front of Crema Cafe) - 27 Brattle Street Cambridge, MA 02138 -

Cambridge Local First Celebrates Local Economy Week!

Cambridge-City-HallThe City of Cambridge, in partnership with Cambridge Local First (CLF), has declared the week of November 8-14, 2015 as Local Economy Week. This annual week-long celebration started in 2010 to recognize the hundreds of diverse locally owned and independent business in Cambridge.

Cambridge Local First will commemorate the 5th annual Local Economy Week with City officials on Tuesday, November 10, 2015 in front of City Hall. CLF invites the newly elected City Council members to commemorate Cambridge as a “Local Economy Community.” What does being a Local Economy Community mean for Cambridge? It means the City’s focus became, and has proudly stayed, even more local than before.

Later in the evening, CLF is throwing a party to celebrate 10 years of supporting and promoting local and independent Cambridge businesses and organizations. The Local Music Celebration will take place on Tuesday, November 10, 2015 at The Sinclair in Harvard Square at 52 Church Street, Cambridge MA 02138. Doors will open at 6:30 pm. Music will start at 7 pm.  Performances will feature Dan Blakeslee, a local award-winning folk musician, and David Johnston, a Cambridge-based blues and folk musician. Guests will be able to meet local business owners, enjoy light refreshments, and appreciate great folk music. This event is proudly sponsored by CLF Members, Irving House at Harvard and New Leaf Legal. RSVP here > >

At the event, CLF will be launching the 2016 Business Directory. CLF encourages the Cambridge community to use this directory to choose local first, especially during Local Economy Week.

Local Music Celebration: 10 Years of Cambridge Local First

Cambridge Local First (CLF) is throwing a party to celebrate 10 years of supporting and promoting local and independent Cambridge businesses and organizations.

The Local Music Celebration will take place on Tuesday, November 10th, 2015 at The Sinclair in Harvard Square at 52 Church Street, Cambridge MA 02138. Doors will open at 6:30pm. Music will start at 7pm.  Performances will feature Dan Blakeslee, a local award-winning folk musician, and David Johnston, a Cambridge based blues and folk musician. Entry is free! Guests will be able to meet local business owners, enjoy free food, and appreciate great folk music. This event is proudly sponsored by CLF Members, Irving House at Harvard and New Leaf Legal.

In addition to celebrating 10 years, CLF will be launching our 2016 Business Directory. We encourage the Cambridge community to use this directory to choose local first, especially since the week of November 10th is Local Economy Week. Also, in Harvard Square, November is Folk Music Month. There is no better place to pay tribute to your local economy and local music together! We invite the Cambridge community to come out and celebrate with us!

RSVP Today

This event is free is open to the public, so bring a friend!


Boston Police Department Pre-Holiday Fraud Awareness Training Seminar

The Boston Police Department will be holding a Pre-Holiday Fraud Awareness Training Seminar.   They have invited the Cambridge Business Community to take advantage of this training. The seminar is going to focus on issues that businesses face during the holiday season, They will be showing how re-encoded credit cards and gift cards are made and why, They will be going over the new chip credit cards and the issues that merchants will be facing with the new technology and how they are going to be responsible for any losses.  They will be going over how to detect counterfeit money and American Express Travelers Checks, They will also touch on the new shoplifting laws.  The seminar is going to deal mostly with any business that deals with credit cards, cash or travelers checks. Some Cambridge businesses have already signed up.  If you would like to attend send an email to

Pre-Holiday Fraud Awareness

Presented by: The Boston Police Department

November 10, 2015

10am – 12pm

John Hancock

Dorothy Quincy Suite

180 Berkeley Street

Boston, MA 02116

If you’re a merchant, business or financial institution that accepts credit and/or debit cards, don’t miss this free event.  Register today!

To confirm seating, please contact Detective Steven Blair at

Cambridge City Council Candidates Answer our Questions!

With City Council elections fast approaching it is time for CLF's biannual candidate survey. We asked each and every campaign to answer a series of questions to find where they stand on issues affecting the local and independent business community. The following candidates answered our survey in full. Please take some time to reach through their responses, and most importantly, make sure to vote on Tuesday, November 3, 2015!

Interested in becoming a Massachusetts state supplier?

Save the Date – Massachusetts Supplier Diversity Regional Series

Thursday, November 5, 2015

8:30 A.M. – 11:30 A.M.

Reggie Lewis Track and Athletic Center, 1350 Tremont Street, Boston, MA 02120

Join the state Supplier and Diversity Office for a morning of networking and workshops designed to provide capacity building and expanded procurement opportunities for the small and diverse enterprises currently conducting or interested in pursuing supply-chain engagements with state, municipal, or private buyers in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

The Series aims to develop a partnership between the Commonwealth, local municipalities, and private buyers that will assist small and diverse businesses.

The Series goals are to assist small and diverse businesses by:

  • Increasing the marketplace of business opportunities for small and diverse enterprises in Massachusetts;
  • Convening procurement representatives from state, municipal, and private organizations with small and diverse business owners;
  • Promoting networking between small and diverse businesses with buyers and key procurement decision makers; and
  • Providing small and diverse businesses with access to capacity-building resources.

The City of Cambridge will be hosting a table at the event, promoting Cambridge local businesses. If you are interested in getting onto the City’s vendor registry, please contact Pardis Saffari at To register as an attendee to this event and get yourself in front of state, municipal and private buyers, click here: