Don't Shop Local
Don't shop local... shop in OUR town!
Shop local campaigns are the new in thing for small towns but are they the RIGHT thing?
Don't get me wrong, I think it's a great idea to encourage local residents to shop in the town but having been forced to really dig a bit deeper in my thinking, and to think from outside the box, I'm not sure it's the answer to "small town syndrome".
Having lived in a small town for most of my life I see the people passionate about supporting local, and I have seen the change in the way people shop - I used to work in a fruit and veggie shop when I was 15.
The shop was in a shopping centre which had a butcher, grocery store, chemist, hairdresser and clothes shop. Streams of people would walk past and on Saturday at 12noon, the shops would close until Monday morning.
In our particular shop, people would come to the counter, tell us what they wanted and we would find the finest fruit and vegetables in our stock to give them. Weight it up, price it up, take their money. They didn't pay extra for this personal service because it was the norm. The butcher was no different for example.
After some time the grocery store became bigger, the veggie shop and the butcher were swallowed up by the now supermarket and the hairdresser and clothes store either moved or closed down. People could pick their own meat, fruit and veg from a shelf and supermarkets could provide a lower price because they could afford to buy more of it.
Add into the mix all day Saturday and Sunday trading and peoples shopping habits had begun to change completely.
As I say, I'm all for encouraging local residents to shop in their local shops but what I do see is a number of people who are disgusted when someone doesn't shop local.
Sometimes I do, sometimes I don't. It's my choice and there are a number of reasons that usually play a part in the decision. Sometimes its price, sometimes its variety, sometimes I simply can't get what I want in town and then there are times when I simply enjoy the atmosphere of bigger shops, more people or bigger cities.
The more I think about this issue the more I can't help but think we have all missed a vital point... When people are not shopping in their own local town, they are shopping in someone else's town - and you can bet your bottom dollar that all the residents of THAT town don't all shop local.
They do so because there is an attraction in that town - could be anything as mentioned above or more - which at at that time, on that day, for whatever reason, they don't feel they can get in their own town.
Even more, it's now not so much a choice but a behaviour. We do it so often that without even thinking, we have made rules that determine where we will go and why.
When you start to understand and grasp that, the driving force in my opinion should not necessarily be shop local but shop in our town.
That's right, don't market to the people of the town - they know what's there, how much it costs, what the atmosphere is, etc. Market to the neighbouring towns. To people within driving distance of your town. What they need is to know that your town has something that is worth them driving for. Do the research, find out what people in those towns like, find out what motivates them to shop outside of their own town.
Then find ways to meet those needs and desires. For example, it won't matter if you can't provide something for the same price as a bigger store - if what people want is better customer service.
When it comes to marketing to them you have a range of ways that can and will work for you. One is of course online media and we have a wide range of ideas and services which we have seen work in other towns and businesses, from community websites to search engine optimisation and everything in between. Contact us to find out how we may be able to help you.
Before you blame bigger businesses and/or local residents... think outside the box, think outside your town and watch your business and in turn your town, grow and develop into something amazing. Something beautiful. Something which will survive for years to come.