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SHREWSBURY, Massachusetts – To local merchants, the holiday season can often make or break an entire year, and yet as we move from Black Friday, to Sweet Saturday to Cyber-Monday, I think many have lost sight of just why it’s so vital to by locally. Several years ago, when Borders was going out of business, I can remember people coming to the big store closing sale talking about how they just loved to come to the store – and yet now it’s gone, because in the end, while they may have loved to come in and have a hot chocolate, when they needed to make a purchase, they went online. There’s a great story about an employee at Borders who put a sign on the door that week that said “No Public Rest Rooms – Use Amazon’s!”
I”m actually going to try something I’ve never done before…which is to donate FREE advertising to all my local businesses starting today! More about that down at the bottom.
There are many, many reasons why you should use this season to shop locally, and I don’t just mean on “small business Saturday.”
1. As a local business myself, when I spend money with my local merchant’s here in Shrewsbury, they than have money to spend with me. I seriously doubt that the owner of Amazon is planning to buy a house from me in Shrewsbury, as have so many of the local business owners.
2. When you shop locally, you support the tax base and the infrastructure, which in turn supports the schools, the roads, and all that we have come to count on.
3. Local people stand behind their product, in person. If I buy a piece of jewelry on-line, I’m on my own. If I buy it from my local merchant, and there’s a problem, I stop on back and they make it right, and that’s far easier than trying to explain my issue on the phone to a call center overseas.
4. Being able to touch and feel a product can really influence your buying decision. So often people seem someone online that looks just fantastic, and no sooner does it arrive than they realize it’s not what they expected. When you walk into a local business, you can see first hand just what you’re getting.
5. When you try it on before you buy it, guess what? It fits!
6. If you think you’re getting a discount, think again. People get so excited about the thought of a big Black Friday sale, and getting 20% off on their television, their shoes, their sweater, but in reality, those discounts are almost always a scam, because they are discounts off of a suggested list price that nobody ever intended to get in the first place. There are several lawsuits right now over “phony discounts,” and some great articles online about how large businesses work with their suppliers to create “MSRP’s” designed such that a 30% discount is “full price.” I believe one of those articles I read yesterday said that in one large anchor store which recently reported data, less than 1 product in 100 was ever sold for the “suggested price.”
7. That pair of Oakley sunglasses that you wanted to buy for $90 at the local store, you found online for only $85. What a bargain…at 4% off. Well, to be fair, they describe it as “40% off the MSRP of $130,” a price that nobody has ever paid. (Reminds me a bit of the “40% off the “compare at price” ads I see at some merchants.) The part you missed though is that they charged $12.00 for shipping and handling, and that added over 10% to the cost. Why not just walk in the door of your local merchant and buy something you like.
8. When you work with someone locally, you’re often getting a far, far better product, because someone has to physically hand it to you. The other day, after a photo shoot for my Stellar Images Photography studio, I received an email from my client asking if I could email her the photos, so she could order them on Snapfish! My first thought, as I was sitting there in my hot tub trying to re-heat my frostbitten toes, was “If Snapfish wants to do pictures, why weren’t they freezing their toes off at the part all day with your family?” In the end though, there’s just an entirely different level of quality when I order something from a professional photo lab, than there is when you order it online by uploading a file to a computer. In some ways, it’s like the drive through at a restaurant. If you want quality, go inside….because there’s not a whole lot of accountability when you hand someone a bag and they drive off with the wrong meal.
9. You can’t expect your local businesses to support all of your causes when you don’t support theirs. Be honest, how often have you tried to hit up Central One for a donation for your cause, while you’re having your paycheck direct deposited at a bank in Chicago? How many times have you stopped at Fiore’s Auto and Truck to see if they would sponsor a little league team, and then taken your cause to Westwood for service? If you want them to help you out, you first have to step up and support them.
Anyway, I had this thought the other day, as I was driving home from Thanksgiving dinner with family. I’d like to provide all of our local businesses with a FREE advertising opportunity right here at the Shrewsbury Lantern. I’m going tp be putting the ad tile shown above on each page of the Lantern, starting today. When a consumer clicks it, it will go to my Support your Local Businesses” page, and I invite all local merchants, big or small to send me ad copy, a logo, a few sentences about their business, and a link to their website. I will place all of those on that page, first come, first served, and organized by topic.
We get several thousand views a day, so hopefully this will generate some more business for you at this critical time, as well as letting people know about some of the amazing values that exist right here in the community.
You can email me those pieces directly, to steveshrewsbury.net
Just keep the logo’s or a photograph under 500 kilobytes in size, and I will work on getting those all in today for you, and of course cross promoting it on all of my social media outlets.
If you’d like to return the favor, feel free to share the page to your own fan base, but either way, I’m doing it to help you out, and thank you for your support.