I’m challenging all local, independently owned businesses to begin offering layaway options to our patrons and buy local supporters. Maybe some of us already offer layaway. Awesome! Great! Thank you! Tremendous! The problem is, I haven’t seen any of us on Twitter or Facebook (yet) shouting about layaway offers.
Buy local fans and Localists, hear this: This is the era of social media. It allows us to communicate with the masses at warp speed. Effectively! It even helps us make buying decisions. So I recommend you use it. There are items we cannot purchase locally that require us at times to shop the big-box stores and large retail chains. But remember, please, “think local” first.
I would wager most consumers who get behind the Localist movement don’t have deep pockets; that’s just an educated guess. Remember, Localists are willing to “think local” first, and then we act. We purchase from locally owned independent businesses. We make a concerted effort to do so. Now is the time to start wooing us with your offers. And it’s time to offer layaway, and to let people know about it. As long as the holidays are approaching, take advantage of some simple marketing tools and start getting the word out!
First, if you don’t already have a Twitter account, get one. It’s free. If you don’t have a Facebook page, get one. It’s free. Put up some signage. Make it yourself. Get creative. Tell your family, friends and neighbors. Word-of-mouth advertising is also free (and still is the most effective form of adverting).
Businesses who advertise get more business. In theory, that sounds like a no brainer. In reality, too many of us locally owned independent businesses and Indies are not doing it yet. So let’s get to doing!
Offer it to us on “Local Layaway!”
In Their Own Words
Business: The Gift Box Shoppe
What it does: Home décor and gifts
I’ve noticed that the community is becoming more aware of the “Buy Local” movement. It is important to me because the more we inform people, the greater our chances of having a flourishing economy in Syracuse. When we buy from locally owned businesses, we’re also promoting environmental sustainability and economic growth. When we choose to go out to dinner, we’ll frequent one of our local restaurants, and many a Friday night you’ll find us in Jamesville at The Split Rock Grill.
We are a family of entrepreneurs; both my husband and I can appreciate the support and sharing of resources between all small businesses. I’ve invited other entrepreneurs to bring their business cards to be posted on our “Buy Local” bulletin board, which shows my commitment to this movement.
The Gift Box, 4317 Fay Road, is tucked away in a residential area on the west side of Syracuse. We consider our business a “mom & pop” standalone establishment. We carry a wide variety of primitive, colonial and American gifts & home décor, including items made from several local artisans. I find that “sometimes you want to go where everybody knows your name,” and it’s the comfort of familiarity that brings people back.
Business: Cooperative Federal Credit Union
What it does: Community Financial Institution
The idea of spending our money locally, at independently owned businesses, is starting to become more and more central to when, where, and how many people purchase goods. On the way to work, we’ll pass three national chains just to get a cup of CNY-roasted coffee. When it’s time to pick up a dozen eggs and some milk, we’ll choose our food co-op or wait for the regional market. They’re small-enough shifts, but it’s satisfying to know that we’re part of an evolving consumer consciousness.
But buying “stuff” differently isn’t the only way we can help to revive and improve our local economy. We need to reexamine our other business relationships, too – including asking: What does my money do when I’m not using it? When I borrow money or use a credit card, what happens to the interest I pay? In other words, we need to ask how to bank locally, too.
Cooperative Federal (www.coopfed.org) was founded in 1982 to answer that question. The impetus was divesting from the racist apartheid regime in South Africa (which no big bank would pledge to do) and providing fair services to single women, communities of color, LGBT families, people of modest means and others who were so often excluded by the big banks. Thirty years later, we’re still doing that work: providing accounts, loans, mortgages and financial counseling to people of all backgrounds, including many who are marginalized or exploited by the mainstream banking model.
To Cooperative Federal, “local” means not only where we buy our office supplies but also what we do with our members’ money. (Because credit unions are cooperatives, everyone who has an account is considered a “member” or part owner of the credit union.)
While the big banks let the lion’s share of their deposits sit in investments, often on Wall Street, all of our members’ money is used to fuel lending right here in Central New York. We make mortgages to first-time homebuyers; finance home repairs and improvements; help everyday people access fair, affordable consumer credit; and capitalize small and micro businesses so that we can help nurture a vibrant, independent economy here in our own backyard.
When you pay interest and fees to us, it’s not lining the pockets of wealthy shareholders – it’s making possible our day-to-day operations and helping us provide financial education and counseling to hundreds of people each year.
And so, the question remains: are you saving and borrowing locally? If your bank account were a cup of coffee, would it be mass marketed or artisanal roasted? If the answer is no or you’re not sure, it may be time to make a change.
Brian Kingsley is a marketing, advertising and promotions consultant and the owner of Geo Dux Small Business Services. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.