Are you doing all you can to encourage the local clientele in your area to buy local? As big boxes fill up local landscapes and online sales creep up every year, many independents may be tempted to throw up their hands and say “Oh well, I can’t do anything about all that.” When you consider that two to three times as much money stays in the local community when people buy from independent retailers in the area, why would you ever want to give up and say there’s nothing you can do? As a local entrepreneur, be proactive! Not only will your own store benefit from increased sales, but your community will benefit as a whole. Here’s how you can encourage the people in your area to BUY LOCAL!
Be Vocal About It – Get involved with local civic groups and ask to speak to them about the value of shopping local. Offer to speak at schools and let them know how much shopping local helps the local economy, which in turn helps the schools. One study done in North Carolina concluded that 64% of the money spent at local independent stores stayed in the Raleigh area and only 36% of the money spent at big-box retailers stayed in the area. Spend some time getting your facts straight – here are a few places you can begin your research: American Independent Business Alliance and Independent We Stand.
Publicize It – Use your own advertising dollars to let locals know how committed you are to the community – THEIR community. Create a campaign that highlights the many reasons why people should buy local. Say something in your advertising like “Locally-owned independent stores return twice as much to our local economy than big box stores do per dollar of revenue.” Let your customers know that 65% of all new jobs come from small businesses like yours, which of course benefits the local community by providing a robust job market.
Join Your Community’s Chamber of Commerce or a Business Networking Group – Joining groups like these will give you lots of exposure to other businesses in your area, where you can network and share ideas about how to promote local shopping. You know the old saying – two heads are better than one. Imagine combining your efforts with hundreds of other small business owners in your area!
Start or Join a “Buy Local” Loyalty Program – Offer your customers discounts and special offers for shopping at your locally-owned business, and make sure they know the reason they are getting the discounts/offers. If you are part of a shopping mall, visit your neighbor stores and ask them to participate in the program. You could offer a coupon for the hair salon or restaurant several doors down to your customers, and those businesses could return the favor by offering a coupon for your store – again, make sure everyone knows that the reason you are offering them discounts is because they are shopping local! The possibilities are endless!
When shoppers buy local they are not only supporting you, the local merchant, they are also supporting themselves and their community. Sometimes the lure of low prices and one-stop shopping at big-boxes can be tempting, so as a local entrepreneur it is in your best interest to educate the local community about why it is better to shop local businesses. It can be an up-hill battle, but every little bit helps. Encouraging your customers to buy local is a win-win for everyone!
PDRA members can download more graphics from the NRHA/Independent We Stand “Home Sweet Home” study like the ones shown in this blogpost to help get the word out about buying local. Just click here!