If you work for one of the 4,000 Chambers of Commerce across the United States, then you probably get the most satisfaction from your work when you help members become more successful, in turn, contributing to the prosperity of your community, region, or state.
Therefore, you may want to take advantage of Small Business Saturday on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. The holiday encourages shoppers to patronize brick and mortar businesses that are small and local. However, with less than a week to go, you may worry there’s not enough time to do anything to support businesses on this upcoming holiday. But don’t fret, there’s still time to create an impactful promotional campaign to support your local merchants and here are five ideas for doing so:
#1: Free Parking: If you have an office within walking distance of the downtown area, offer free parking to encourage people to make the trip. It's simple. But you’d be surprised how a little bit of encouragement will go a long way. Also, this offer gives you a reason to send out a mass email to your community to remind them to shop local.
#2: Reward the Spirit of the Season: Set up a welcome booth and give away free coffee and doughnuts to anyone that makes a food or toy donation at the Chamber’s booth. This may spur a little extra purchasing in the local shops and the items can go to a good cause, like children in need or a local food pantry.
#3: Gift Bag Drawing: Handout a “passport” or visitor card that can be stamped or punched by participating members (yes, you need to spend some effort to get your local merchants to agree to participate in advance) and if shoppers return their cards full, then enter them into a drawing for local merchandise or gift cards (Ask local businesses to donate to the cause…)
#4: Scavenger Hunt: This probably won’t require much advance input from your local merchants. Hand out 3 different sheets with 5 questions each about local businesses (e.g. which business is offering 40% off holiday ornaments…) Each completed sheet is entered into a random drawing and then provide gift baskets stocked with locally purchased items to the winning submission(s).
#5: Hashtag Photo Contest: Post flyers around town on asking shoppers to take a photo at their favorite local store and then to hashtag it (eg. #citynamesaturday) If your town has a mascot or something that can be used uniformly across participating stores, then you could ask merchants to include that item in their store and each time someone takes a picture of that item and posts to social media, then it becomes an entry into the contest. Each hashtag counts as an entry and your panel of 3 judges can decide which one to reward with gift cards or local merchandise.
So with only a few days to go, don’t worry, don’t panic – there’s still time to have an impact. Small Business Saturday is an opportunity to generate some enthusiasm and excitement around the local stores in your community and to have some fun while doing so.