Reflecting back on “Retail and Business Promotions that Really Work” on my plane flight back from Chicago, I was suddenly struck by a thought. It seems that the line between promoting local businesses and building our community is beginning to disappear.
The presenter, Kathy LaPlante of the Main Street Center, quickly moved through 100 examples of business promotions from communities all around the United States. They ranged from “Earlier than the Bird” in Livermore, California, through “Let’s Wine about Winter” in Libertyville, Illinois, to “Shop Your Ath Off” in Athens, Georgia. The creativity generated by all of these grass roots efforts was quite impressive. (continued)If there was a single theme that unified those 100 ideas, it seemed to me to be “throw a big party and invite everyone”. The advanced planning (and the piece to “make it work” for local businesses) was assuring that the “party-goers” were made aware of and given enhanced access to local retail offerings while “partying”.
The partying was definitely at least partly about generating sales, however, it seems more about bringing people together…and celebrating all of the elements that help make our community, including the people, the businesses, and the activities. Building relationships is as important to the economy’s vitality as it is to the community’s health.