Small Biz is the Backbone of our Economy

Shopping locally is the thing to do.

Shopping locally will make a difference

I recently read that small business employs a whopping 97% of all employees.  I’m not quite sure how they came up with this number, and you know what everyone says about statistics…that 48.7% of all of them are made up on the spot.

Yes, I made that one up.

The real fact, however, is that small biz is what this country was built on, long before the industrial revolution.

Today, it is what I look for when I shop.  I support CSA, community supported agriculture.  I actively seek out “mom and pop” shops for coffee, lunch, and other shopping endeavors.

Yes, I shop on the internet, and I do shop at the large chain stores from time to time.  If I knew where to get these things without going on the internet or going to a Kohl’s or Target, then I would do so. I also recognize that sometimes you can’t get around finding what you need at a larger store.

What I’d really like to do, however, is to raise everyone’s awareness about shopping locally.

When you shop at a large department store approximately 17 cents of every dollar stays in your community (usually in the form of taxes). When you shop at a locally owned small biz, between 48 and 78 cents stays in the community.

That’s a HUGE difference.

A grass roots movement is afoot around the country to raise the awareness of people to this fact.  The economic forecast is pretty grim.  However, if we try to spend more of our money locally, we might just turn things around.

Let’s do our part.  Shop locally. Encourage others to do the same.

If we can even persuade people to spend $50 to $100 locally this holiday season rather than at a large chain store or the internet, we will be making a significant change in our communities.  Let me know what you’re doing to make a difference.

I welcome any and all comments.

Hosting a Holiday Open House – Give Them a Gift

What you want to do is focus on that holiday and focus on what the needs of your customers are. Whatever your business is, particularly if you’re a retail business, you will want to provide something of value to your customers; specifically, ones that you’re marketing to directly. These customers are the ones you want to retain. These are your most important customers. These are the ones who have been with you for a period of time, hopefully for years.

A Holiday Open House needs to be an event that your customers want to come to. They won’t want to miss it. They will want to participate and they want whatever it is that you’re giving away.

Yes, I said, give something away.

People like to get a gift. It doesn’t have to be anything big. It could be a small votive candle, or a small bag of candy. It could be napkin rings, or something that goes along with the theme of your store and can buy in bulk. I highly advise against always making it an advertising gimmick. People get tired of just getting a pencil or a calendar with your name on it. They all know it is advertising. For once, they’d like to be treated as someone special, not as someone you’re marketing to.

You want the gift to be something that people are willing to come in and get. You can make it, you can buy it. What matters is that it is something special. It’s even better if you go the extra mile and get inexpensive cellophane gift bags and wrap them up like gifts. People feel even more special when you present this to them because not only is it free, but it looks and feels like an actual gift.

People don’t forget being made to feel special

With the Holiday Open House you want to provide an opportunity for people to purchase for other people. You may have certain gifts that are obviously a gift, like a hostess gift that is already gift-wrapped. Have the samples out and on the display table so that they can choose whichever one they want, but then you have the rest of the merchandise already beautifully gift wrapped and all they have to do is pick it up.

This is especially effective particularly around the holiday time, at Thanksgiving when people often visit someone’s home, Christmas, Hanukkah, New Year’s, Easter, Mother’s Day, 4th of July. These holidays are times when people often visit at one another’s homes and bringing a beautifully wrapped hostess gift is most welcome.

Here’s a tip. People actually enjoy getting a gift rather than always getting their gifts placed in a gift bag. So, if the item lends itself to being wrapped pretty easily, then wrap it and add a small bit of ornamentation to it to dress it up a bit.

One year we had a few sets of small cheese plates and a spreader. It wasn’t terribly expensive. There were several styles. Some were a little more expanded sets that had cocktail napkins that would be perfect for an impromptu cocktail party. They were beautifully wrapped. They were in a box, so wrapping them in holiday paper was especially easy. We chose a beautiful blue paper and added a glittery plastic snowflake as an ornament on the ribbon that way we didn’t have to have both Christmas and Hanukkah paper. We just used neutral “winter” paper and ribbon and they literally flew out the door.

Giving a gift to your customers during a Holiday Open House and having pre-wrapped gifts available to them sets the tone for “customer service” that they won’t forget. They’ll be back every time because you’ve made them feel very special.

K Birmingham