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3 Ideas for Starting your Community’s Shop Local Program

By Julie Glover, Professional in Residence

As COVID-19 cases continue to rise across the nation, many small businesses are suffering and in danger of closing. By setting up a shop local campaign, economic development corporations, chambers of commerce, and city leaders can lend a hand to small business owners and boost sales tax revenues at the same time.

The website of Independent We Stand (IWS), a national movement that, in part, educates consumers about the importance and strong economic benefits of “buying local,“ discloses that for every $100 spent at locally owned businesses, $68 stays in the community. On the other hand, IWS reveals that when that same $100 is spent at a national chain, “only $43 stays in the community.” There are many good examples of shop local campaigns and they are not difficult or expensive to get up and running.

One example of a partnership that jumped on the “local” bandwagon began ten years ago in Denton, Texas. The City’s Economic Development Department, the Denton Main Street Program, and the Convention and Visitor’s Bureau collaborated to develop and roll out a shop local program to businesses and residents.

About Denton’s Shop Local Program, S.H.O.P.

Using the acronym of S.H.O.P. (Shop Here On Purpose), the partnership utilized websites, printed materials, and workshops to get the word out about the program. With statistics and information from the Small Business Association, Independent We Stand, the American Independent Business Alliance, and the 3/50 Project, they created a program that is unique to Denton and features their mom-and-pop stores.

Here are three ideas from Denton’s shop local program that you can use to help start your own program:

1. Create a Hub: The first step was to make a landing page for S.H.O.P Denton on the City’s website. Information on the benefits of shopping local, printable materials for merchants, and the program logo are available on the website.

2. Spread the Word: The program was rolled out to 300 business owners at a quarterly Chamber/City partnership breakfast before going public. The City owns their utilities, so they were able to place a flyer in every utility bill informing citizens of the new program. Flyers were distributed to businesses, encouraging them to link to the webpage on their social media. Window clings were made and distributed at local festivals, events, and the Chamber of Commerce and City offices.

3. Be Neighborhood Champions: Each year, Denton Main Street staff members and volunteers become American Express “Neighborhood Champions.” The volunteers help businesses sign up for Small Business Saturday | Shop Local With American Express, which falls the day after Black Friday. American Express runs ads, nationwide, and provides a link to local businesses who are participating at no charge. Free “swag” is sent to the coordinating entity and they can distribute it to the businesses.  

The Bottom Line

Small businesses make up the bulk of many cities’ sales and property tax base.  Small businesses are also what give our towns their distinctive “personalities” and set them apart from others. By helping small businesses, cities are also helping themselves and retaining their unique character.

For more information about these tips and other strategies, contact your Buxton account manager. Not a Buxton client yet? Check out what we offer the public sector.

Journey Awareness Persona Economic Development/Elected Official City Government