When one thinks of shopping locally, some consider it an act of charity. One may pay more and get less selection. That’s not a recipe for success. In contrast, the world’s most successful retailers, Walmart and Amazon, operate on just the opposite principles: low prices and massive selection. When I’m in Walmart's Panama City Beach location, it’s so massive I feel like I’m in the Giants' stadium. Amazon sells 12m items on its website (350m if you count the third-party sellers) and touts low prices. Amazon takes its low prices strategy seriously. Around the East Village I see delivery trucks with low-price messaging, and Amazon crawls millions of competitors’ websites each day to ensure it has the lowest prices.
Special days where customers can expect a deal has a long tradition. We have Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and Presidents Day sales, famous for appliance and home goods sales. Starting shortly after the Great Recession of 2008, American Express introduced a new day: Shop Small (https://www.americanexpress.com/us/merchant/shop-small.html). For one Saturday in November, AmEx encourages people to shop (and dine) at small spots. I love this because it helps our indie stores. Now, for my complaint: If only American Express didn’t charge about 25% more than other credit card processing networks. The issue I see with Shop Small, besides the higher fees, is the day is not known for sales, never mind great selection. Remember: to win over customers, we have to win on price or selection, and preferably both. Plus, did I mention one credit card company manages Shop Small? That's divisive. What about, um, Visa? In addition, Shop Small is just one day. By the time you remember what day it is, it's already over.
I propose that we start a national day or weekend dedicated to indie stores where indie stores promote sales and savings. We could call this event “Save Local.” The event would be like Shop Small in that it promotes shopping at indie stores (and restaurants). The event would be different in that it promotes saving money. The event's name has a double meaning in that one is also saving local businesses. The event would encourage online shopping, too.
We’ve chatted about offering a free membership program where customers can save 5% off orders by joining a program called Save Local. I like the idea of having a membership program and a shopping event with the same name. (As a side note, I don’t think the Shop Small Day campaign has a daily or ongoing program for customers. I don’t know that a customer can join a Shop Small membership program.)
Save Local Event Date:
Since Shop Small Saturday is in November, I’m thinking of a day or weekend in the spring. A weekend between March to June. I’d consider July 4th (what better way to say independence), but it may be too hot during that time of year in some parts of the country to drum up foot traffic.
Save Local Event Promotion:
We could send Save Local event materials to stores to display in their windows.
We could promote it online, in emails, and via press releases.
Our Save Local event could partner with businesses that want to help indie businesses, including Staples, FedEx, and even AmEx.
Increase in-store foot traffic.
Raise the profile of Bridge Shop Local as a platform for indies.
As a sister event, we could encourage registering for wedding registries at indie stores and call it “Love Local.”
The good news: we work to ‘save local’ every day. Thank you, team, for making that happen 365.