The Power of Working Together Locally

Josie Leavitt - October 30, 2014

We are less than a month away from the real start of the holiday shopping season. Once again, it’s a shortened time because Thanksgiving is late this year. This year, though, Small Business Saturday, on November 29th, looks to be enormous for my town. Why? Because all the stores are working with each other to create massive buzz about why it’s important to not only support smaller stores, but to support the ones in Shelburne, Vt.
Last month I wrote about Keeping Business in the Village¬†and what we had done to promote our village to shoppers. In November we are launching an all-out campaign to reach beyond our town and get folks in the rest of the area to come down to Shelburne to shop for the holidays. The beauty of this has been two-fold: there is a core of dedicated business owners who have the time to coordinate this (I am not one of them and am grateful for these energetic souls) and are doing most of the heavy lifting. They regularly communicate ideas and promo thoughts, and have been working with advertising sales folks at radio stations and the local papers to secure us good spaces. This kind of effort is wonderful. And it’s really smart to only have three people “deputized” to do this for the group rather than each person researching, reaching out and reporting back. Things are streamlined and efficient.
Not only are things easily handled, but because there are so many stores participating, this whole effort is not expensive. For a contribution of $200, each store will be featured in flights of radio spots on two different stations, and ads in four local papers. The graphic designer already has everyone’s logo and store write-up from the brochure, so there’s nothing for stores to do but chime in about the radio copy and suggest tweaks. For us this is huge. It saves us to just work and not design ads, gather logos, etc. There are so many details to coordinate and we’ve proven how well we all work together because the brochure was a huge hit and seemed fairly effortless.
The great thing about working with other business owners are the ideas folks come up with. The first idea that would have never occurred to me is a massive raffle for over $500 in gift cards. One lucky winner will get all the $35 gift cards from each store. This is a very sizable prize and one that will keep folks filling out raffle forms in all the stores and what a fun prize to win during the holidays. I never think of these things and if I did, a one-store raffle isn’t all that impressive, but a raffle with 12 stores is much more attractive.
The last thing that’s going to work is that all the stores will be using the same ad copy on their email blasts. The level of thought that’s going into this is impressive to me. The four coordinators of this effort have really thought of everything. They know that this kind of solidarity and continuity reinforces the message that Shelburne businesses are working together to support each other. Small Business Saturday is a huge day for stores like mine and by the collaboration with 11 other stores, it should be an amazing day.
I’d love hear other ideas of what your town or village doing to get ready for Small Business Saturday.

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