“Shop local” is more than a chamber of commerce slogan. It has become a way of life for an increasing number of consumers. People care what’s in their food and where it came from. They appreciate the diverse range of highly talented, creative artisans in their midst. As a retailer, you can become a “locavore,” too, helping your customers connect with these local producers.
It’s easy for restaurants, grocers, and other food-related businesses. Simply look for and do business with local producers. You can find ingredients as well as value-added retail products. Besides food, a growing number of F&B operations are looking to locally produced wines, craft beers, and spirits to distinguish their menus and attract more discerning patrons
North Carolina St. has developed a detailed guide to help produce managers and buyers shop locally so their customers can do the same. It’s a valuable read for any type of retailer who wants to incorporate the shop local movement into their business.
If you’re one of those other types of retailers, there are a couple of ways you can easily add local wares to your merchandise repertoire. You can buy wholesale from local sources and sell the merchandise at retail as you would anything else. Or you can set aside space – permanently, temporarily, or seasonally – for local artisans to display and sell their own wares.
Of course, you want to pick items that will appeal most to your clientele. But think more broadly here. You might find things that directly match your regular offerings – handwoven shawls for your apparel boutique, for example. But why not offer unexpected complementary products? Locally-roasted coffees for your kitchen store. Hand-crafted dog cookies for your pet store or grooming salon.
Prominently display your local wares
- Set aside a featured "Shop Local" area.
- Use customized, well-branded fixtures.
- Create can’t miss signage for the display, and add individual labels, shelf tags, tent cards, etc. to identify your local sources.
Promote your shop local program
- Use your website, email, and social media to get the word out.
- Advertise, if you do use traditional print, broadcast, or direct mail.
- Hold special events that feature your local sources. Growers, ranchers, artists, and crafters can perform demos or talk about what they do. Hold a mini-farmers market or trunk showing, or a beer, wine, or coffee tasting.
- Create short videos or slide sequences to display in-store. These can share your producers’ stories and/or educate customers on the personal and community-wide benefits of shopping locally.
Sustainability starts at home
The shop local movement goes beyond local sourcing. It is meant to encourage buying where your money will strengthen your local economy. Abundant research proves that small, locally-owned businesses are helping build better communities. So if your store is a local independent, then you’re just as home-grown as anyone. You can promote – and benefit from – shop local in multiple ways. You’ll increase sales, store reputation, customer trust, and loyalty.