Sometimes the best ideas for the small guys come from the biggest cities. In 2009, a week-long celebration of independent retailers took place in New York City, Chicago, Philadelphia and New Jersey. Participants included over 300 independent retailers. The event was staged by the founder and CEO of Nolcha Fashion Week, Kerry Bannigan, who thought that focusing on small, independent retailers was vital to the economic spirit of cities and towns in the U.S..
In 2011, July was proclaimed National Independent Retailer Month and now shops all over the country, in both big cities and tiny towns, celebrate. It’s an important month for retailers to remind consumers of the benefits of shopping locally, and of the key role that independent retail plays in the economy – both locally and globally.
Own Your “Independence”
Unless you’re part of a national chain or franchise, you are considered an Independent. So, take advantage of this fact by putting up signs in your shop or print out cards to have on your cash wrap promoting that you are independent. You will be surprised how many customers will take notice and start saying things like, “keep up the good work” or “thanks for opening your store!”
Get Involved Civically
Independent retail makes a big impact in your community. Many studies have been done regarding the value of independent businesses in communities. In December, 2011, the Maine Center for Economic Policy released a study that showed that, for every $100 spent in a locally owned business, $58 stayed in the community. For every $100 spent at a nation chain store, only $33 stayed local.
Contact your mayor and city council members to let them know about National Independent Retailer Month. Ask for their support. Or, speak at your local Chamber of Commerce or city council meeting to let others know about the importance of independent retailers in your town. The media is a great way to get the word out. They are always looking for local stories, so contact your local paper or TV outlet to set up an interview.
Celebrate with Customers
July is a great time to remind local consumers of how important your business is to the community. Here are a few ideas to help you get involved:
- Celebrate Independence Day with your community. Check out our article on Fourth of July Sales for some ideas and tips.
- Go to the Independent Retailer Month website, download and print a poster to display in your store window.
- Host an Independent Retailer Month party at your shop. Team up with other local businesses to offer food, games, music and prizes.
- Put together an advertising campaign that focuses on the fact that your business is independent. Place print ads in local newspapers, post information on your website and create some custom signage/banners that highlight National Independent Retailer Month.
- Interview customers about why they enjoy shopping at your independent store and post interviews (either video, audio or print) on your website.
- Stage a month-long sales event at your shop. Make up employee badges that say, “We’re Independent.” Offer discounts. Sponsor a “Why Local is Best” essay or art contest and give prizes to the winners.
- Host a fashion show with some of your customers. Ask them to create outfits made up entirely of items purchased from independent retailers. Award participants with gift certificates. Tape the fashion show and run it in your shop during July.