There’s something very special about Christmas shopping in your local town. It’s not just about what you buy, it’s the atmosphere, the feeling of a special occasion and the knowledge that a dollar spent in a high street store is a dollar that stays in your community.
When we shop, we don’t always appreciate the flow of that dollar through the local economy. Every dollar local people spend helps keep a local business owner, and in turn pays for food bought locally, new kit for a child on the school sports team, and local services from auto shops to accountants, chiropractors to carpenters.
It’s not just about business either, as one Canadian Chamber of Commerce explains:
“When we shop local, we help (our town's) businesses to provide jobs for our neighbors and friends. When we shop local, we help to fund city services such as road maintenance and funding for our schools through sales tax dollars. When we shop local, we are investing in the character and prosperity of (our town's). We truly do enrich the health of our community, and our future, by shopping local.”
The Canadian Yellow Pages “Shop the Neighbourhood” campaign was originally set up to coincide with Black Friday and Cyber Monday events. Now it runs year round to encourage shoppers to shop locally. The campaign also looks further, on the impact of decision-making:
“Supporting local businesses also helps keep decision-making power close to home; and business operations and activities which may affect the community are made locally, by people aware of the impacts those decisions have on the surrounding neighbourhood.”
How your local Chamber helps people shop local
Given a choice, many people in Woodstock will choose to shop local. It saves time, hassles with finding a business, and extra spending on gas for the car or home delivery charges. One of the most effective ways for local businesses to be found is via our online Member Business Directory. Every business member of Woodstock Chamber of Commerce has their own dedicated listing under specific categories, and the directory is searchable too. Results are shown by pins on a map, and there’s even a neat little feature where potential customers can get directions from wherever they are to the business.
- Give it a go yourself! Directory
- If you’re already a member, make the most of your Member Business Directory listing! Add a description, a photo and other details, anytime. (Login required.)
Six ways to promote “shop local” this season
Here are some ideas on how to encourage customers to shop local, without busting the budget.
1. Make sure your bricks and mortar business is on Google My Business (GMB)
This is absolutely crucial for ensuring that people can find you when they’re actually in town. Mobile searches for “florists near me”, for example, rely on GMB to show results of businesses that are within a 1.5mile radius of where that search is made. It’s easy to do, it’s free and how to do it is explained right here:
2. Get listed on other directories
See our blog on which directories your business should be listed on – for free.
3. Remind customers you are local
This may sound obvious, but thank customers for shopping locally with every purchase. Pop a flyer into their bag or with their receipt, add the phrase to the bottom of your invoices or appointment cards, or even just as sign saying “Come in, we’re your local xxxx” on your office, clinic or store door. Charities do this very successfully, reminding those who give to the charity that “your donation will feed a child for a week” or whatever. The money they give has a direct link to the charity’s work.
4. Find local outlets for goods
If you make a local product, look for new outlets amongst local independent retailers. This reinforces the link between the community and products, as does prominent local labelling. Again don’t be shy about it – tell the local press / media about your initiative.
5. Advertise with your local Chamber
Our popular e-blasts put your sales message direct into the inbox of every local business member. Our members-only email mailings are trusted by local businesses and email spam filters alike so they’ll read each with interest – just as you do if you’re already a member! Exclusive to our members, your PDF flyer will be sent to over 650 Chamber members and contacts for just $150 + HST. Call Kim at the office for full details.
6. Shop locally yourself
By buying goods and services locally, you’ll be supporting the same community that will in turn support you. Take a little extra time to check out new businesses or use a local supplier for the first time. By shopping locally you’ll build local contacts who in turn now know about you and your business, should they need it. In time, part of that dollar they pay their local employees or spend themselves will find its way back to you via various pockets and bank balances along the way. Here’s a neat summary of the top ten reasons to shop locally and the local multiplier effect.
Circulating currency is also good for the environment in a slightly unexpected way too! The switch from cotton-based bank notes to polymer ones from 2010 onwards, according to the Bank of Canada, led to up to a 60 per cent reduction in environmental impact, including a 32 per cent reduction in global warming potential and a 30 per cent reduction in primary energy demand. So, keep those notes circulating; they’re good for at least 7 years!
Tell us your ideas
If you’ve got a great idea for helping promote the shop local principle to local customers, we’d love to hear about it. Just give us a call or send us an email; we might be able to help you develop and implement your idea.