National Independent Retailer Month

Shows “Shop Local” Should Be More Than A Slogan

Elsewhere in this issue, we talk about the recently coined phrase “Retail Apocalypse.” Well, I want to throw out another one that I’ve embraced for decades now…“Retail Therapy.” This is the counterpoint to the national phenomena that is happening as large national retailers continue to struggle.

Simply put, Retail Therapy is shopping in order to make oneself feel happier. And shoppers are spreading that joy to locally-owned specialty shops. July in particular is a month set aside to show that support of neighbors.

July is National Independent Retailer Month with a purpose of encouraging consumers to shop at independent retailers, which is what many consider to be the foundation of a strong local economy with their positive social and economic impact. Home grown, locally-owned businesses create more sustainable cities, towns and communities.

Independent Retailer Month was born from the collaboration of two very different individuals who happen to share a common desire.

First came Tom Shay, a small business marketing expert and principal of Profits Plus. In 2003 he created a holiday, ‘National Independent Retailer Week’, to show retailers how they could create celebrations for their communities around a “shop local” campaign.

Then a few years later in 2009 came Kerry Bannigan, Co-Founder of Nolcha, a nationlly recognized fashion-event planning firm. Bannigan launched ‘Independent Retail Week’, a week-long, city-wide, shopping extravaganza that started in cities like New York, Chicago, and Philadelphia. The goal was to advance the business of independent fashion retailers. The first event attracted more than 400 retailers, and media coverage including NBC, Fox, ABC and CBS.

In 2011 discussions began between Bannigan and Shay as they wanted to be inclusive of everyone that participated in some way in independent retailing. July 2011 Independent Retailer Month USA was born highlighting the important role local merchants play in the community, economy and overall retail sector.

Today Independent Retailer Month encourages consumers to celebrate the independent retailers that are the backbone of our communities and engages independent retailer associations and local officials to promote shop local campaigns.

Statistics to support indie retail:

South Dakota Rural Enterprise, Inc. found a dollar spent at an independent retailer is usually spent six to fifteen times in the community before heading out of town. Just $1 can create $5 to $14 of value in the immediate area.

According to the Indiana Main Street Program, only six cents of a dollar spent at a big box retailer stays in the area.

According to the SBA, since 1990, big businesses eliminated 4 million jobs, while small businesses added 8 million jobs.

A Civic Economics study in New Orleans found that if residents and visitors were to shift 10 percent of their spending from chains to local businesses, it would generate an additional $235 million a year in local economic activity, creating many new opportunities and jobs.

According to the Andersonville Study of Retail Economics, local business generates 70 percent more local economic activity per square foot than big box retailers.

I leave you with this from If every family in the U.S. spent an extra $10 a month at a locally owned, independent business instead of a national chain, over $9.3 billion would be directly returned to our economy. Just something to think about.

Lisa Cownie

Editor of Connect Business Magazine