Best Practices

Empower Local Economies through the Shop Local Movement

Published Dec 12, 2017 by Rob Williams

Empowering Local Economies through the Shop Local Movement
With the holiday shopping season upon us, it’s vital, now more than ever, to encourage entrepreneurs to leverage shop local/small business campaigns to fully maximize the economic impact on local communities. This year, shoppers are expected to spend an average $967 this holiday shopping season. Ensure your local businesses are receiving their slice of the holiday money pie.

Why does it matter if shoppers spend their money at a locally owned business as opposed to a big-box retailer? Isn’t all money spent in a community essentially good money?

Let’s break it down the impact of shopping local.

Not only do small businesses outnumber large corporations and make up for more than half of the nation’s jobs, they also generate 70 percent more local economic activity per square foot than big box retail. It’s simple. Money spent locally, stays locally. It all makes up this amazing entrepreneurial ecosystem that we’re trying so hard to support and grow.

SourceLink’s Maria Meyers defines Main Street entrepreneurs as business owners who have physical brick-and-mortar businesses like hair salons, grocery stores, coffee shops or clothing boutiques. Main Street entrepreneurs support the local economy by strengthening partnerships among small businesses and community organizations.

According to the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, businesses who participated in a “Buy Local” campaign reported an average revenue growth of 8.6 percent compared to 3.4 percent for those who did not participate. And the willingness to shop local is stronger than ever. On average, Midwesterners estimate they will buy 41 percent of their holiday gifts from local stores this year according to Lead Bank.

Here are a few ways to help your business owners leverage the holiday shopping season to your community ecosystem’s advantage.

Invite the world to shop with a purpose

Puerto Rico took a devastating hit in 2017 when Hurricane María ravaged the island destroying most of the infrastructure needed to keep businesses surviving. Our affiliate partner at Colmena66 collaborated with other organizations to launch Shop+HirePR, a campaign to increase Puerto Ricans’ customer base outside of Puerto Rico. The purpose is to diversify the local business customer base, get entrepreneurs back on track and start rebuilding the local economy. Shoppers are encouraged to buy handmade items and hire freelancers for online services.

Host an interactive Shop Local map

SourceLink affiliate KCSourceLink created an entire #ShopLocalKC campaign around Kansas City’s microenterprises and makers by utilizing the SourceLink Shop Local Map. With more than 250 local businesses listed and highlighted on an interactive map, shoppers can filter businesses by type, zip code and distance. Local entrepreneurs can get in on the fun by submitting their own business to be listed (and you can start building that email list).

Here are a few more quick ways to encourage local spending this holiday season (and beyond).

● Spread the local love and share tweets and posts from your makers and creators on your social media outlets.

● Tell small business owners about the resources available to them (your entrepreneurial service providers) to maximize their holiday campaign. Do this through direct messaging (more personal and effective), your newsletter or as a post on social media (least personal).

Does your organization host a shop local campaign?

Need help connecting entrepreneurs and increasing you and your Resource Partners’ visibility? Contact us—we’re here to help you identify resources, connect and empower entrepreneurs and measure your efforts.

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Rob Williams of SourceLink
Rob Williams is the director of SourceLink where he puts the “serve” in customer service, always available as support to SourceLink clients who are often the unsung entrepreneurial champions in their communities.