By Alex Gladu, IWS Content Team
It’s no secret that buy local campaigns are making a difference in the small business community. These campaigns drive consumers away from national chains and toward small businesses, while connecting small business owners with like-minded partners and resources. According to the 2013 Independent Business Survey sponsored by the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, small businesses in communities with active buy local campaigns experienced revenue increase of 8.6 percent in 2013, compared with just 3.4 percent for small businesses elsewhere. Business owners in these active buy local communities say that the ongoing buy local campaigns have brought increased media coverage of small businesses, improved customer loyalty, and greater support for small businesses from city officials to their community.
In celebration of the impact these campaigns have had on local businesses, we’re recognizing some of the most influential buy local campaigns across the country. They range from citywide celebrations hosted by the local businesses on Main Street to nationally recognized campaigns sponsored by corporate allies. While it would be impossible to identify all of the campaigns that have contributed to the growth of small business revenue, the 10 on this list exemplify what it means to be local, buy local and support local. Take a look at the first five campaigns below, and be on the lookout for our next five selectees coming soon!
Independents Week is a week long celebration of small, independent businesses organized by one of the most influential buy local groups in the country, the American Independent Business Alliance (AMIBA). Held each year over the week of July 4th, Independents Week highlights the freedom that local businesses bring to communities through economic and charitable support. AMIBA provides independent businesses with all the resources they need to join the celebration, including marketing materials, suggestions for activities and “how-to” guides.
Since 2008, the third Saturday in April has belonged exclusively to the independent record stores. Each year, Record Store Day celebrates these independent retailers and their unique approach to the music industry. The day is often recognized with special vinyl and CD releases, performances by bands big and small, cookouts and all-day entertainment. What started as an experimental event in San Francisco in 2008 has since transformed into a worldwide indie holiday, with participating record stores on every continent except Antarctica.
Independent toy stores across the country kick off the holiday shopping season each year by celebrating Neighborhood Toy Store Day each November. Sponsored by the American Specialty Toy Retailing Association (ASTRA), Neighborhood Toy Store Day encourages parents to shop local for their children’s toys in order to support the community and find the highest quality toys for their family. The celebrations held at local toy stores include arts and crafts, scavenger hunts, exclusive deals and more.
With PlanItDIY, the North American Retail Hardware Association (NRHA) has capitalized on two growing trends in American consumerism: the desire to buy local and the desire to do-it-yourself. PlanItDIY gives consumers inspiration, tips and step-by-step advice for just about every popular DIY project and connects DIY’ers with locally owned home improvement retailers for their supplies and additional resources. Whether they’re designing their dream backyard or just looking for a family-friendly holiday craft, PlanItDIY has the experience and local connections that consumers need to support local businesses and spruce up their homes at the same time.
No list of influential campaigns would be complete without Small Business Saturday. Celebrated every year on the day after Black Friday, Small Business Saturday encourages consumers to divert at least a portion of their holiday shopping budgets toward small businesses in their community. Sponsored by American Express, Small Business Saturday draws millions of shoppers into small businesses and generates billions of dollars of revenue for local economies. Last year, American Express estimates that 100 million consumers spent $5.7 billion on Small Business Saturday.
Along with groups of small business owners, concerned consumers and local chambers of commerce, these campaigns highlight the importance of shopping local for goods and services. What’s more, though, these events actually mobilize and excite consumers about shopping local by turning a trip to the hardware store into a cause for celebration. Stay tuned for our next five selectees, and be on the lookout for these celebrations all year long.