We recently hosted a “Meetup” at Anne’s Washington Inn for local, independently owned retailers.
These local storeowners and managers came from stores located downtown and out of town. They sell clothing, skis and snowshoes, plants and flowers, beer and winemaking supplies, books, and more.
Getting more people into their stores and shops, they said, is their biggest challenge collectively and individually.
The retail industry as a whole is facing significant and growing competition from online retailers.
As a nation, we lost nearly 35,000 retail jobs this March after losing 30,000 in February. The National Retail Federation says 1 in 4 jobs in our economy is tied to the retail sector.
In many cases, jobs in the retail sector are an entry point into the workforce.
We have to help sustain this industry, particularly the local independently owned stores that make our city and surrounding villages unique and healthy places to live and play.
We, as consumers, have the power to help.
Our shopping habits have been changing for some time but we can choose to pivot yet again.
Let’s adapt and make it more of a habit to #ShopSaratoga.
Shopping locally can be a positive, fun experience that makes you feel good and connected to the community.
For starters, there is actually a very good chance that if you ask to speak with the owner of a locally owned store in Saratoga that they will actually be there.
Imagine really connecting with the owners and managers in the stores you frequent the most. That’s what really builds a healthy community.
Many local shops have rewards programs and specials events for local customers. Sign up the next time you are in their store.
When you visit a festival downtown for the delicious food, take a break from eating and sample a store or two or more.
Looking for a birthday gift? What about a special mother’s or father’s day present? Make it a point to shop in a local independently owned store.
Local retailers offer gift cards and gift certificates. Buy them. Give them as gifts or rewards or to thank someone.
Our members at this meet up had some ideas, too, as to what they can do to succeed, grow and thrive.
Many are becoming even more engaged in the community, participating in events where they can share their story.
Some are collaborating and offering cross-promotions. They are looking at setting up valet services and delivery options.
They too have established online stores to serve those who want to shop local just not during normal store hours.
They are active in social media building a following. They showcase new products as they arrive.
When you #ShopSaratoga, tell two friends and so on.
Tell all of your friends on social media. Share what you bought locally that is unique and where you got it.
Local, independently owned stores, shops and restaurants are the lifeblood of our local communities across Saratoga County.
Our healthy and vibrant economy is made possible because these places are here and only here.
Like everything else we love about living in Saratoga, we cannot take them for granted. So please stop in a local store this week to #ShopSaratoga. Introduce yourself to the owner and tell them Todd from the Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce sent you.