By Bill Brunelle, Co-founder of Independent We Stand
As a local business owner, you occupy a unique place in your community – and it’s not just because of your one-of-a-kind storefront. You know the community on a personal level, and that often translates to sustainable business practices, support for local organizations and a friendly, familiar atmosphere around your business. You’re unique, you’re passionate, and you’re local – but do you promote that? Do customers know your Main Street story?
Buying local has become a way of life for many consumers. It’s a growing trend that has only just begun to permeate communities across the country, yet it has already delivered big success for local businesses. If you haven’t already been convinced, here’s a look at why you should be more vocal about buying local.
Believe it or not, consumers increasingly understand and appreciate the difference that local makes. They want to experience the unique culture of the town they’re visiting. They want to give back to their own community. In fact, 89 percent of consumers agree that independent businesses contribute positively to local economies, according to American Express OPEN. These consumers seek out local businesses like yours, so it is critical to let them know you’re local and independent.
When consumers know that your business is local and you are active in the buy local community, your bottom line benefits. As part of a buy local group, you’ll gain networking opportunities, shared resources and experiences and increased awareness of your business – all of which translate to real results. A recent study by the Institute for Local Self-Reliance and the Advocates for Independent Business found that independent businesses in communities with an active buy local campaign saw average revenue growth of 7 percent in 2013. At the same time, independent businesses in communities without such a campaign saw average growth of just 2.3 percent. This means that buy local campaigns can indeed boost sales by raising awareness of your business and educating consumers about what it means to shop local.
Fortunately, there’s probably already an active buy local campaign working in your community. In 2013, the Institute for Local Self-Reliance found that the number of cities in the United States served by a local first initiative grew by 8.6 percent. The best way to take advantage of the buy local movement is to join one of these initiatives and actively engage with it. These groups often provide free resources like marketing materials, training programs and community events for local businesses to get involved and start promoting the idea of localism. Hang the buy local stickers in your storefront, learn from other business owners and maintain a presence at these events so that consumers in the community can identify you as an independent business that they should support.
Independent We Stand works with businesses across the country to help them engage with the buy local movement. Take advantage of your Independent We Stand membership by downloading our free marketing materials, creating a listing for our mobile app or upgrading to a Premium Membership for even more benefits. To find a buy local group in your community, like Retail Alliance or LoveVA, check with the local chamber of commerce and online with some national networks of buy local initiatives, including the American Independent Business Alliance (AMIBA) and the Business Alliance for Local Living Economies (BALLE). You know how important it is to shop local; now it’s time to educate more consumers every day and engage with those who already agree.