Promoting Local Business AND Building Our Community

TasteOfNorthfield_WigleyPhoto.JPGReflecting 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.


  1. I received an email the other day from a B&B we have stayed at in Lanesboro. Attached was a pdf flier of a weekend of events including: art show, guest speaker, musician… It was all centered around a theme of Ojibwe culture. I thought it was an excellent promotion to bring people to Lanesboro. I made me think of the wealth of possibilities Northfield could offer guests if it was coordinated with local businesses and the colleges. I wish I could include the email sand flier here, but I do not know how!

    March 9, 2009
  2. Arlen Malecha said:

    Christine –

    That B&B was spot on with their promotion of the weekend events. I am sure they were promoting the events in part to fill their rooms but at the same time they did it for the good of the business community in Lanesboro.

    Perhaps as part of their colaberation efforts the Northfield Conventions and Visitors Buerau (sp?) could work in colaberation with the Chamber, NDDC, local lodging facilities and downtown businesses to collect e-mail addresses of folks who shop and stay in Northfield.

    One of those organizations could be in charge of the master list and send out e-mails promoting events going on in Northfield as well as promotional coupons good at various businesses around town.

    March 9, 2009
  3. Ross Currier said:

    Christine and Arlen –

    Collecting e-mail addresses, and/or snail-mail addresses, certainly is an opportunity worth pursuing. I know that the NDDC’s Events and Marketing Committee has been working hard to further promote our calendar of events this year.

    The message that I heard over and over at the conference was that we all need to collect zip codes from our customers. Zip codes are apparently a key to truly knowing your market. I look forward to a broad and deep collaboration on this effort.

    Thanks to you both for your comments.

    March 10, 2009