LocalMart

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What is the mission statement of LocalMart?
To be a marketplace for sustainable, locally produced goods and services, with the objective of creating sustainable local economies.

Is LocalMart operational yet?
No - It is in a testing phase and we welcome interested prospective members to participate in testing and evaluating the features of LocalMart.

How does LocalMart work?
Here is an example of how LocalMart works.  LocalMart.net sets up an online marketplace for a community - an affiliate of LocalMart called www.LocalMart-YourTown.com (e.g. LocalMart-Lamorinda.com).  Individuals in that community, after joining the affiliate, and with LocalMart's assistance, start new sustainable businesses.  Suppose that individual A starts a vegetarian, organic food restaurant.  B is a local organic farmer.  These individuals join the www.LocalMart-YourTown.com affiliate and using PayPal, get started by buying MartMoney with dollars.  They each receive a MartCard which they can use to conduct LocalMart transactions, much like a debit card.  (Members can also redeem MartMoney back into local currency or check account balances by accessing the LocalMart website.)  B frequently dines at A's restaurant and A purchases B's organic produce, and all transactions use MartMoney, with the advantage of no transaction fees, no checks, and no debit cards or credit cards.  Members who maintain a positive or break-even "balance of trade" (e.g. sales = purchases) can transact in MartMoney indefinitely, without transaction fees and without having to revert back to local currency.  As the list of LocalMart sustainable businesses grow, local self sufficiency and sustainability are enhanced.  Members may also transact business with members at another LocalMart affiliate such as www.LocalMart-NextTown.com, or www.LocalMart-FarAwayTown.com, all using their MartMoney, but the emphasis is on local commerce.  LocalMart affiliates can be started in thousands of communities all over the world.

LocalMart's website uses a social networking platform (like Facebook, MySpace), so personalization and communication and support among members are greatly enhanced.  LocalMart will enable more meaningful jobs, less commuting, less migration to cities, more control over one's employment and economic destiny, and stronger community bonds, while enhancing local self sufficiency and sustainability.  MartMoney represents a claim on useful, locally produced sustainable goods and services with the resulting benefit of insulation from external financial disruptions that can cause inflation, recession and unemployment.  MartMoney could even become a more secure store of value than the local currency in many parts of the world, while enhancing worldwide economic stabilization. 

What is the purpose of using MartMoney?  Why not just use the government currency?
Since MartMoney is the only means of payment on LocalMart, it encourages members to purchase locally produced, sustainable goods and services from other LocalMart providers.  Using MartMoney is also a less costly means of transacting business.  Internet transactions and a significant portion of non internet transactions typically use payment methods such as debit or credit cards or Paypal in which the merchant must pay a transaction fee.  LocalMart transactions use MartMoney, and there are no transaction fees.  So for example, if a merchant pays a 2% fee on credit card transactions and makes a net profit after all expenses of 5% on those transactions, the use of MartMoney saves that 2% and the net profit increases to 7%, or a 40% increase to the bottom line.  Now, when MartMoney is converted to or from local currency using PayPal, there are fees, but for a consumer/provider who maintains a positive or break-even "balance of trade" (e.g. sales = purchases), the conversion to or from local currency would never be necessary. 

MartMoney is not issued by a central bank which can issue unlimited amounts of currency, thereby debasing it and causing inflation and a loss of purchasing power and personal savings.  MartMoney represents a claim on useful, needed, sustainable local goods and services, insulated from (but also convertible to, if desired) the local currency. 

How is LocalMart structured?
LocalMart (www.localmart.net) is the organization which sets up and administers LocalMart affiliates which are local, independent LocalMart groups with their own websites.  If a person or group wants to start a LocalMart affiliate in their community, there is a simple application process, and following LocalMart approval, setup of the website and training of a local administrator, that affiliate would be operational as, for example, www.LocalMart-YourTown.com.  (Note that localmart is a network of local affiliates and has a .net suffix and the localmart affiliates have .com suffixes.)  Applicants for membership to an affiliate submit a simple online application form to the administrator for approval.  The website for the affiliate is built on a social networking platform and the home page is viewable by the general public, but member information is only viewable by other members.  The social networking platform is useful for personalizing the site, allowing photos, videos, personal blogs, discussions, google-type text ads by providers and formation of groups (e.g. Sustainable Food group, or Sustainable Clothing group) which can carry on discussions and programs all within the site. 

All MartMoney accounts and transactions and conversions between MartMoney and local currency are handled by a central database maintained by LocalMart itself, as a service to the affiliates.  LocalMart also serves as an informational resource to the affiliates and assists in maintenance of the affiliate's websites.   

LocalMart seems to resemble a barter club.  How is it different? 
There are similarities with barter clubs in that barter clubs usually emphasize local membership, and barter money is similar to MartMoney.  An important feature of MartMoney is that it is convertible to and from local currency (for a small fee, whereas barter money is not always convertible).  A second difference is that LocalMart's mission of sustainability and local self sufficiency means that goods and services offered must meet a sustainability test, and barter clubs usually make no such distinction.  A third difference is that LocalMart uses a social networking platform for its local affiliate web sites.  This greatly enhances the personalization, community spirit and information sharing, allowing photos, videos, personal blogs, discussions, google-type text ads by providers and formation of groups (e.g. Sustainable Food group, Sustainable Clothing group) which can carry on discussions and programs all within the site.  A fourth and very important distinction is that LocalMart seeks members who are both consumers and vendors (providers).  It encourages and assists consumer members in finding or developing sustainable products or services that can be offered, and it encourages and assists providers to direct their purchases of goods and services to other LocalMart providers so as to "close the loop."  By so doing, the goals of local sustainability and self sufficiency become more and more attainable (and it also becomes possible for more and more members to stay within MartMoney without having to convert to and from local currency.)  A fifth distinction with barter clubs is that LocalMart is developing software that will allow the transfer of MartMoney via mobile phones and this will allow in-person transactions without using a barter currency or barter checks.

Can I purchase goods and services from other LocalMart affiliates?
Yes - members may transact business with members at another LocalMart affiliate such as www.LocalMart-NextTown.com, or www.LocalMart-FarAwayTown.com, all using their MartMoney, but the emphasis is on local commerce.

How can I view a LocalMart affiliate web site?
If you enter  http://localmart-lamorinda.com you can view the site for LocalMart-Lamorinda (serving Lafayette, Moraga and Orinda, California).  Since this is a members only site, you can only view the home page, but there are links there which will let you view portions of the shopping site, and other links which can provide information.  One link, Business Ideas is a list of ideas for sustainable products and services that you might be interested in offering as a provider on LocalMart.  

How do I participate in LocalMart?
We welcome your application for membership in one of the affiliate sites.  (See Affiliates - List and click on the affiliate of your choice and in the upper right corner, click on "Sign Up".)

Does it cost anything to join?
No, customers and providers can join for free

How would I go about starting a LocalMart affiliate in my community?
Send an email to: info@localmart.net

Contact Us: info@localmart.net

View a LocalMart Affiliate Site  
Members only site but many of the features and links are viewable for non members
 
View the LocalMart Store
Members only site but many of the features and links are viewable for non members
 
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