Getting a boost from ‘Buy Local’ campaigns in Summit County
Summit Daily News
For many independent businesses, developing a strategy to compete with neighboring big-box retailers is a real anxiety trigger. However, enterprises backed by community-wide Buy Local campaigns – such as “Summit Unchained” run by the Summit Independent Business Alliance – appear to be suffering from less stress than their counterparts without the programs. A recent national survey of independent businesses shows more than twice the sales growth for enterprises in communities partaking in such campaigns, compared to establishments in areas lacking such programs.
Businesses in areas with the campaigns experienced an average revenue growth of 5.6 percent in 2010, while those without experienced an average of 2.1 percent annual revenue growth. The survey was conducted in Jan. 2011 by the Institute for Local Self-Reliance and includes data from nearly 3,000 retailers, service providers, restaurants and other companies from across the United States.
Summit Independent Business Alliance executive director Katie Roberts said county enterprises backed by the “support local” campaign benefit from education concerning community development.
“I think the buy/support local messaging that SIBA and its members have delivered to the community has helped educate people about their purchasing choices and the impacts those choices have on our local economy,” she said. “You cannot shop or support a business without there being a series of direct and indirect consequences.”
Roberts said data collected from members of SIBA showed an average, annual change in revenue growth of 6.7 percent, which puts Summit County businesses ahead of the national norm by 1.1 percent.
“Considering that there’s a lot of uncertainty and pessimism about the economy in general, the fact that these independent business owners in Summit County are doing so well is thrilling,” Roberts said. “We were also pleased to learn that the majority of those who responded think that SIBA’s ‘support local’ initiatives impact their businesses’ bottom line in a positive way.”
The alliance furthers its mission of educating visitors and residents of Summit County on the importance of supporting homegrown businesses through awareness strategies like coupon books, conferences, posters, decals and a Fourth of July float. Summit Unchained is the alliance’s biggest buy-local effort, which takes place annually over the Christmas holidays. SIBA challenges the community to shift at least 10 percent of spending to local, independent businesses and tracks purchases with punch cards. This past year, Roberts said the amount spent per card went up by about $10, and resulted in just under $50,000 in tracked spending. Businesses can also benefit through professional education seminars with topics ranging from marketing, consumer relations, and technology.
Suzie Ver Schure, owner of Abbey’s Coffee in Frisco, said people certainly acknowledge her membership, and she even thinks it helps to boost her business.
Hair Harmonies owner and SIBA member Emma Hirsch said the Alliance’s coupon books seem to draw more people through her door.
“The little promotions they do are awesome,” she said.
Creative Cabinetry owner Trip Butler said he wasn’t sure what kind of value the Alliance would have for his business before he joined because of the public’s reliance on big-box chains. But, he said his membership has drawn customers committed to doing business locally.
“We have had a lot of interest and energy around the concept of the Alliance,” he said. “It has brought some business through the door.”
Roberts said people tell her they have shifted their shopping habits because of SIBA’s campaigns.
“Summit County is full of intelligent people who try their best to support local independents already,” she said. “Many more of our visitors and locals have learned why since our educational efforts and shift their dollars as best they can.”
To learn more about the Summit Independent Business Alliance, visit: http://www.summitindependentbusiness.com.
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