BY Carol Tice
If you've been trying to keep shoppers loyal to your small business and out of the big chain stores, you're not alone. Small retailers have been trying to harness the "shop local" movement to hang onto their customers.
But here's a question for every business owner out promoting the advantages of dealing with local merchants: Do you walk that talk?
As I listen to the endless drumbeat of objections to how the big companies operate -- most recently, the flap over Amazon's price-checking app over the holidays -- I wonder how many small-business owners apply their shop-local philosophy to themselves?
Behind the curtain at your store or home business, where do you shop?
Do you use an independent shipping firm to truck your goods? Buy your office supplies from a small independent, or maybe at Staples?
Are you featuring products from small, local manufacturers, or do you buy in bulk from giant corporations?
In my town, I've watched store after store that tries to get by purchasing items in bulk from Costco or other big chains and then reselling them. Inevitably, they go bust. Why? Besides being more expensive, you're not differentiated enough. You're selling the same old stuff. You can bust out of that rut and stock products that are less easily price-compared by investigating local suppliers instead.
One way local businesses can get some real buzz going is to buy local themselves, and to feature how they buy local in their marketing. Several restaurants I patronize do a great job of this, with menus describing the locally raised beef and produce they're using in their dishes, down to what farm it's from.
That's a powerful way to attract shop-local oriented consumers and give them a more compelling reason to visit you. It also lets small businesses support each other directly, and can help build new relationships for marketing.
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