The Serious Business of Shopping Small
The holiday season is coming to an end, but it's always important to support small, local businesses, no matter the time of year.
We all know the benefits of shopping small – it supports members of our own community, puts money directly into the local economy, and is the best way to discover unique, not-found-elsewhere gifts. Over the past two years, we have also learned both how essential these businesses are to our communities, and how critical it is for us to support them.
But small business owners also understand the significance of making the shopping experience a memorable one, in hopes that customers return multiple times; and they are investing more time, effort, and budget than ever before in creating those meaningful interactions. Cultivating customer loyalty is as critical as attracting the attention of new customers; and these initiatives accomplish both goals. As corporate marketing gets louder, bigger and more prevalent, small businesses must continue to be creative in their efforts to attract and retain customers. Below are several ways to create unforgettable experiences that extend beyond simply shopping for items on a list and keep people coming back.
Capitalize on the Personal Connection
One of the key differentiators of small businesses is shoppers are very often interacting with the business owners themselves, people who have deep knowledge of the products they are selling – which allows for a more personal and meaningful shopping experience than relying on online reviews or big discounts.
But most small businesses are known for their personal touches and the relationships they build with their customers, so what else can they do keep their stores top-of-mind for consumers?
Become a Destination – Not Just a Stop
Creating a sense of place within your own community, a destination people are proud of, feel welcome in and want to return to, possibly with friends and family, has become increasingly popular among small businesses. Bonus if they can partner with other small, locally-owned spots to leverage the placemaking feel.
We have embraced placemaking at Stanley Marketplace: in addition to the gifts and services offered by our boutique retailers, local restaurants, fitness studios, salons, and service providers, we offer free events and creative activations to keep the community engaged, interested and excited to visit again and again.
Give Back to The Community That Gives to You
Of course, giving back to the community is a priority to small business owners and employees. They want to reflect and return the support they receive from their neighbors back into their own local communities and continue to strengthen those ties.
The benefits of providing unique, curated experiences for consumers who shop small are significant. You create memorable traditions for neighbors and community, turning your business into a must-visit holiday destination while emphasizing the importance of shopping small. As a result, at Stanley Marketplace, we welcomed more shoppers than any past holiday season in 2022 — a refreshing difference from the relative quiet of the past two pandemic-affected years.
As small business owners and supporters, the goal in implementing these creative initiatives is to create return guests who are inspired to make your business a treasured part of the holidays each year, supporting their neighbors and community along the way. Through these efforts, we also hope to remind people to shop small and local year-round.
Allyson Fredeen is the General Manager at Stanley Marketplace in Aurora, CO, a community gathering place which houses 50+ independently-owned businesses including retail shops, restaurants, bars, fitness, services, and classes.