3 May 2023
The shop local movement is a worthy endeavor. A thriving Main Street can foster a sense of community, encourage entrepreneurs young and old to pursue their dreams and expose residents to a host of new ideas and products. But the benefits of a strong local business sector don’t end there. In fact, communities have much to gain economically from promoting Main Street.
Though the numbers vary from year to year, a recent report from the U.S. Small Business Administration indicated that, for every $100 a consumer spends at a small business, $48 remains in the community where that business is located. By contrast, just $14 out of every $100 remains in the community when that money is spent at a big-box store or national retailer.
With so much to gain from a thriving local business scene, community leaders and residents can plan and embrace events that showcase the many small businesses that make their towns and cities unique. There are many ways to promote local businesses, and the following are three creative event ideas to get locals and non-locals alike excited about the businesses that offer so much to your community.
Shop local at night
Many communities participate in restaurant weeks that draw scores of visitors to the cafes and eateries in their town. A similar approach can be employed to bring people to Main Street for something other than food. A shop local at night event can feature special discounts during a time of year when business might otherwise be slow. Community organizers can close Main Street to vehicle traffic throughout the week to encourage people to walk around and visit all the small businesses in their communities.
Holiday bazaars may be most often associated with the holiday season that runs from Thanksgiving weekend to New Year’s Day. But there’s no reason why communities cannot plan and promote similar festivals during other popular holidays, such as Memorial Day, Independence Day and Labor Day. A Valentine’s Day festival the week before the holiday can encourage locals to get out and shop for that special someone, while a Halloween festival can encourage people to spend time outdoors patronizing local businesses during a time of year when the weather is welcoming for all.
Workshop weeks can be great ways for local businesses to inspire interest in their offerings while showcasing the many talented individuals who help them thrive. Each night can feature a different workshop hosted by local businesses. For example, a Monday night restaurant workshop can feature chefs from local restaurants teaching locals how to prepare a certain dish. Another night during the week can feature local artisans offering lessons on the basics of their skills, such as woodworking, framing or gardening. Such an event is a great way for local businesses to put a face on their companies and meet locals who appreciate their talents.
There’s no shortage of ways to promote local businesses. Special events in which local businesses are the star is a great way to inspire locals to support the companies that help make their communities unique.