Can you believe it’s already July?! The long days of sunshine, BBQs with friends, ice cream-filled nights, and July 4th fireworks are just a few of the things we look forward to during this time of year. However, there is a big event that should not be overlooked. It’s vital to our local economy and it keeps our neighborhood businesses…well, in business!
July is National Independent Retailer Month, and with it comes the reminder that small independent businesses are a key component of any thriving community.
Now, you might be used to running errands at big-box retailers and don’t see the point in going local. After all, a big retailer has all you need.
You may not realize it, but those mom-and-pop shops actually provide more benefits for you and your community.
But before we explain how, let’s take a look at how it all started!
How Did National Independent Retailer Month Begin?
In 2003, Tom Shay, Retail Expert, and Principal at Profits Plus Solutions had an idea. He was going to create a holiday called the “National Independent Retailer Week.” The idea was to encourage retailers to organize celebrations for their communities.
In 2009, Kerry Banningan, Executive Director of Fashion Impact Fund, launched the “‘Independent Retail Week’’ across a few cities, including New York and Philadelphia. Four hundred retailers participated in this initiative which gained support from the two cities’ tourism boards and national news channels.
Fast forward to July 2011, and the two pioneers decided to launch July Independent Retailer Month USA, an initiative designed to encourage people to support their local businesses and emphasize the critical role local merchants play in their community.
And just like that, #indieretailer month was born.
Why Should You Support Local Businesses?
Sure, going to your big-box retailer is convenient.
You’ll find pretty much everything you need in the same spot. Or will you really?
Here are three major benefits of supporting local businesses over shopping at big retailers:
- You’ll Get Personalized Customer Service
Small local business owners rely on their communities to earn a profit and grow their businesses. Therefore, their reputation is everything to them.
Not only is it paramount for them to provide excellent customer service to ensure a thriving business, but a tailored customer service approach is also a great way for them to generate word-of-mouth in the area they service and increase their customer base.
That’s why you’ll have a higher chance of receiving friendly and personal customer service with a local business than with a big-box retailer. Small operators are often passionate about what they do, meaning that they want to create genuine connections with their customers and provide them with top-notch service.
Also, the smaller size of the business means that staff will be more likely to be able to answer your questions and advise you. Small independent retailers are all about qualitative service and positive experiences instead of numbers and strict time-management schedules.
- You’ll Help Support Your Community
Did you know that every time you spend one dollar at a local shop, it’s spent between six and fourteen times in the community before heading out of town?
Or that every time you spend $100 at your local independent, your money generates $45 in secondary spending as opposed to $14 with big-box retailers?
Local businesses are the backbone of the American economy. Not only do they contribute immensely to their communities by spending in their immediate area, but they also provide jobs for millions. In fact, they represent 64% of new jobs created in the US every year and contribute to developing vibrant and buzzing neighborhoods that attract locals and tourists alike. They participate in fundraising, provide food for their employees’ families, and make the community safer.
And if there was still any doubt that you should support local businesses whenever you can, know that they generate 70% more local spending per square foot than big retailers!
- You’ll Encourage Individuality
Big-box retailers thrive on economies of scale and therefore contribute to mass production and standardization of goods.
On the other hand, local independent retailers are bringing novelty and originality to their customers. To stand out from big retailers and their local competition, they constantly must innovate and bring new ideas to life while also offering a selection of products to cater to different preferences.
Besides, small local businesses are usually more flexible, and direct contact with their customers allows them to adapt their offerings to ever-changing needs more easily than big chains.
How Can You Support Local Businesses?
If you’re wondering what you can do to support your community and help local businesses thrive, here are some ideas for you:
- Shop At Your Local Grocers
Regardless of where you live, there are probably local grocery stores, food co-ops, or farmers’ markets that supply fresh and high-quality produce. They need your help to be able to continue to do so.
- Buy From Local Businesses
Whether you need to get keys cut, buy a new pair of shoes, or are looking for a special gift for a loved one, chances are you can find local businesses ready to provide you with exactly what you need. As mentioned before, local businesses often offer innovative and quality products, but they’ll also advise you and help you find what you need.
- Attend Local Events
Local businesses, including independent retailers, might have difficulty accessing capital. That’s because lenders can make it difficult for small local businesses to secure funding which, in turn, limits their ability to grow. So, make sure to contribute to any local fundraisers you believe can help support your community.
Also, attending local concerts and other events in your area is a great way to support local artists and ensure a vibrant entertainment scene in your neighborhood.
Spread The Word
Local businesses are the soul of your community and supporting them means you’re helping to forge a unique identity in your local area. So, grab your shopping bag and a few friends and stroll your neighborhood streets this July and beyond.
You’ll uncover beautiful, handcrafted items and fresh produce and enjoy some hearty conversations you would never experience at a big-box retailer.
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