July is much more than the month we celebrate our nation’s independence — it’s also the month when small retailers around the country celebrate their independence through Independent Retailer Month.
This shop-local campaign got its start in 2011. That’s when Tom Shay of Profits Plus and Kerry Bannigan of Nolcha Shows, who had separately launched promotions to advance the success of independent retailers, came together to create a global campaign they dubbed Independent Retailer Month.
The goal of Independent Retailer Month is to highlight the critical role small, local merchants play in the community and the national economy. The month-long celebration encourages consumers to shop local and celebrate indie retailers, with the goal of creating more sustainable cities, towns and communities.
According to the organization’s website, if every family in the U.S. spent an extra $10 a month at a locally owned, independent business instead of a national chain, more than $9.3 billion would be directly returned to local economies.
Why You Should Get Involved in Independent Retailer Month
By getting involved in Independent Retailer Month, you’re not only promoting the welfare of local businesses but also playing a part in enriching your community’s economy. Here’s why you should actively participate:
Strengthen Local Economies: As mentioned, an additional $10 spent on local businesses can redirect billions into local economies. By shopping local, you’re directly fueling your community’s financial health.
Support Entrepreneurship and Innovation: Independent retailers are often the embodiment of entrepreneurship. By supporting them, you’re encouraging innovation and the entrepreneurial spirit within your community. These small businesses often introduce new and unique products to the market, fueling innovation and variety. Celebrating Independent Retailer Month helps recognize and support these entrepreneurial efforts.
Create More Local Jobs: Independent retailers are significant job creators. By supporting them, you contribute to creating and sustaining jobs within your community. These jobs often provide more personalized and fulfilling work experiences compared to larger, impersonal chains.
Enhance Local Identity and Pride: Independent retailers contribute significantly to the identity of your neighborhood or city. They often reflect the culture and character of the community, strengthening local identity and pride. By participating in Independent Retailer Month, you’re celebrating what makes your community unique and vibrant.
Promote a Balanced Local Marketplace: Supporting independent retailers helps maintain a balanced local marketplace where different types of businesses can thrive. This balance is crucial in ensuring that your community doesn’t become overly dominated by large, impersonal retail chains, preserving diversity in shopping options.
Foster a Sense of Community Ownership: When you shop at local independent retailers, you contribute to a sense of community ownership and investment. It’s a reciprocal relationship where the success of these businesses reinforces community spirit and vice versa. Engaging in Independent Retailer Month fosters this sense of mutual support and community pride.
Celebrate Diversity: Independent retailers offer a unique and diverse range of products that might not be found in larger chains. This variety and uniqueness adds charm and character to your local community.
Personalized Customer Experience: Independent retailers often have a closer relationship with their customers, ensuring a more personalized shopping experience. They can provide recommendations tailored to individual preferences, building trust and loyalty.
Community Building: Local businesses often contribute more to community events, local causes, and charities. They’re not just businesses – they’re a part of the community fabric.
Reduce Environmental Impact: Shopping locally often means less transportation, leading to reduced carbon footprints. Moreover, local retailers might be more inclined to source products sustainably.
How can your Community Get Involved with Independent Retailer Month?
There’s still time to promote Independent Retailer Month in your community. Start by talking to other retailers in your area to see if they have plans for the event. Then, talk to community leaders and business organizations to coordinate your efforts.
Here are some ways that your local community leaders, such as local politicians or the Chamber of Commerce, can help:
Make announcements about Independent Retailer Month
Promote Independent Retailer Month to local media outlets. The organization has some statistics about the benefits of independent retail businesses that can be used to generate interest.
Honor one local retailer as the Independent Retailer of the Year
Create a promotional page on their websites listing local independent retailers
Put up banners or street flags in local retail districts celebrating Independent Retailer Month
How can your Business Benefit from Independent Retailer Month?
Even if your community doesn’t have the time or resources to wholeheartedly promote Independent Retailer Month, your retail store can still benefit from it. Here are a few ideas:
Visit the Independent Retailer Month website to download resources you can use to market your business and promote Independent Retailer month. They have downloadable postcards, posters, and graphics you can use in social media, on your website and in print.
Take advantage of Independence Day as a kickoff for your Independent Retailer Month activities. Get involved in Fourth of July events by sponsoring or giving out free products or coupons.
Promote Independent Retailer Month on your social media accounts and your website. Be sure to use the hashtag #indieretail to help spread the word.
Partner with other local independent retailers to host events, sales, or contests for the month of July. Offer discounts at each other’s stores to customers who show a receipt from a participating store.
The independent Retailer Month website offers several other ways to market your business throughout the month of July.
How to Get the Most from Independent Retailer Month
Present Your Store in Top Shape
July represents a golden opportunity for independent retailers to shine. Creating an inviting ambiance is crucial. A well-stocked store with aesthetically pleasing displays can draw customers in and encourage them to browse longer.
Prioritize cleanliness and organization, as they directly reflect your brand’s professionalism. Effective lighting can also dramatically enhance product appeal and the overall shopping experience.
When customers step into your store, they should immediately sense care, dedication, and passion for what you offer.
Prioritize Customer Service
A store’s heartbeat is its employees. As the frontline representatives of your brand, their interactions can make or break a customer’s shopping experience. In the context of Independent Retailer Month, it’s essential they understand and can convey the significance of the celebration.
Training sessions ensuring they’re knowledgeable about products, current offers, and in-store events can be invaluable. Warm, genuine interactions can foster loyalty and lead to repeat business.
Be the Face of Your Business
In today’s retail landscape, personal connections matter. Customers often resonate more profoundly with businesses when they see a familiar face, especially the owner’s.
By spending more time in your store during July, you have the chance to engage directly with customers, garnering invaluable feedback and sharing your entrepreneurial journey.
Such personal touches underscore the value of shopping local, reminding customers that they’re supporting real people, dreams, and communities.
Encourage Email Sign-ups
Digital communication is a potent tool for retailers. By setting up dedicated sign-up points in your store, you can maintain a direct line with your customer base.
Offer incentives such as discounts or sneak peeks into upcoming collections to encourage sign-ups. Transparency about data usage is crucial; reassure customers that their information will be used exclusively for store-related updates and offers.
This establishes trust and lays the foundation for fruitful, long-term relationships.
Stay in Touch Post-July
Building a loyal customer base goes beyond a single month’s efforts. Regular newsletters can keep your audience engaged, offering them exclusive insights, updates, and promotions.
Sharing customer testimonials can create a sense of community, demonstrating the real-world impact of choosing independent retailers.
Proactively seeking and acting on feedback ensures your store remains responsive to its customer base, continually adapting and improving to meet their needs.
Host Special Events
Independent Retailer Month provides a great backdrop for in-store events. Workshops, product demonstrations, or even collaboration events with fellow local businesses can energize the shopping experience.
These events not only celebrate the month but also emphasize the uniqueness of shopping at an independent store. Offering exclusive discounts or giveaways during these events can further boost foot traffic and sales.
Promote on Social Media
In our digital age, a robust online presence is paramount. Platforms like Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter offer independent retailers a stage to showcase their stories and products. Sharing behind-the-scenes content or historical anecdotes can humanize your brand, drawing customers closer.
Engaging with your audience through interactive content like polls or Q&A sessions can also foster community, while using relevant hashtags such as #indieretail increases your visibility in a broader conversation.
Independent Retailer Month for the Community, Retailer and Consumer
CommunityPromote Independent Retailer Month to local mediaStrengthen local economies
Make announcementsCelebrate diversity of products
Honor a retailer as Independent Retailer of the YearBuild and strengthen community ties
Create promotional web pagesReduced environmental impact
Put up banners or street flagsPersonalized shopping experience
RetailerPresent the store in top shapeAttract more customers
Prioritize customer serviceFoster loyalty and repeat business
Be the face of the businessPersonal connection and trust-building
Encourage email sign-upsDirect communication channel with customers
Stay in touch post-JulyMaintain customer engagement
Host special eventsBoost sales and foot traffic
Promote on social mediaIncrease brand visibility and engagement
ConsumersSpend extra at local businessesEnrich local economies
Engage with local retailers on social mediaReceive tailored promotions and updates
Attend hosted eventsExperience unique shopping and deals
Subscribe to newsletters and email listsStay informed and receive exclusive offers
Photo via Shutterstock
This article, “How to Make the Most of Independent Retailer Month for Your Business and Community” was first published on Small Business Trends