Forget Black Friday: SHOP Local Saturday is Your Chance to Shine
Every holiday season, small- and medium-sized retailers have a dilemma — should they open on Black Friday? While it seems like a prime opportunity to make that cash register jingle, it can come at the expense of profits if you slash prices, and potentially at the expense of your sanity if you're trying to keep your shop open to match crazy mall hours.
So, consider this “permission" to enjoy Thanksgiving day and the following Friday with your family and instead focus your efforts on the following day — SHOP Local Saturday.
This relatively new “shopping holiday" has become well-established as the antidote to the Black Friday madness, where stores lure crowds searching for bargain-basement deals on commodity merchandise. Instead of that melee, SHOP Local Saturday encourages small businesses to capitalize on their local roots, thus attracting customers who share those values — and are willing to pay for high-quality goods and white-glove customer service.
Here's how to take advantage of the SHOP Local Saturday movement by cultivating the exclusive vibe and personalized shopping experience these shoppers desire.
1. Begin the conversation now.
The customer is always right, they say, and nowhere is that sentiment more appropriate than in boutique retail operations. Talk to your customers about their shopping challenges and what services you could provide that would ease their stress and make their shopping productive and pleasant.
You might find they'd like a curated selection of stocking stuffers or fancy gift wrapping to take tasks off their list. By engaging in conversations with customers on the days leading up to SHOP Local Saturday, small retailers will be both marketing their point of differentiation and building key relationships with loyal customers.
SHOP Local Saturday encourages small businesses to capitalize on their local roots, thus attracting customers who share those values.
2. Focus on your own commitment to going local.
The whole concept of shopping small is based on staying local as customers typically prefer to keep their dollars in the community. And small retailers have an important role to play by buying locally as well. Not only are you then supporting other local businesses, but you'll also be able to offer one-of-a-kind merchandise that customers can't find in big box stores, thus giving them an important reason to visit your store.
On SHOP Local Saturday, why not take your support to the next level and spotlight local artisans by inviting them to talk with visitors about their process, materials, or other details of their handiwork? Shoppers will be even more inspired to select these special gifts — and share a favorable impression of your store — when they can meet the craftsmen and hear their unique stories.
3. Get your staff involved.
Encourage your employees to share their “staff picks" to help customers make informed decisions and further build the bond with your clientele. You can even create a special display to highlight various goods and invite your team members to be available to discuss their choices.
It's also wise to make sure your staff is well-trained and knowledgeable about the merchandise. Customers at small retailers are looking for a unique experience, and your associates play a key role. Of course, that includes making sure to staff up appropriately for your seasonal shopping kick-off.
4. Create a neighborhood event.
Customers will be more likely to visit your store if there are multiple shops in the area all celebrating SHOP Local Saturday. Work with your local merchants' or neighborhood association to come together and plan a lively event that shoppers won't want to miss. Create a holistic marketing campaign that entices shoppers, and then encourage them to stay to enjoy the holiday atmosphere.
If all of the participating shops are located in a designated district or on a single street, you can share costs to create a festive environment that includes sweet and savory treats, twinkling lights and other decorations, and music provided by a local school group or band. You can also have drawings or giveaways to further encourage foot traffic, or create a game that encourages shoppers to visit multiple stores to receive a prize.
As holiday shoppers increasingly yearn to find alternatives to the loud, overwhelming mall or big box stores, small- and medium-sized retailers have the opportunity to position themselves as a premier alternative destination. Participating in SHOP Local Saturday allows you to kick off your important holiday shopping season with flair, and create glad tidings of comfort and joy that will propel you throughout the holiday season.
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