July 7, 2023 By Kristin Woodward

“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. ” — CustomMade® Infographic

Running a small business as an independent retailer may be challenging, especially when competing with big corporations that offer cheaper products and have more marketing resources. That’s why Independent Retailer Month is typically a valuable opportunity.

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This annual event each July promotes local retailers, allowing them to showcase their unique products and connect with their local communities. It may be an excellent opportunity to promote your business and be part of a movement of like-minded companies and supporters who know that indie retailers rock. 

What is Independent Retailer Month?

Independent Retailer Month is an annual campaign that takes place every July across the US and the UK and was established to highlight the vital role local merchants play in the community and economy. During the month, independent retailers and their customers are encouraged to participate in activities and events that support their local communities, such as markets, workshops, and networking events.

It’s no surprise that Independent Retailer Month was founded by two successful entrepreneurs with common goals: encouraging consumers to shop local and celebrating indie retailers.

In 2003, National Independent Retailer Week was created by Tom Shay, the owner of Profits Plus®. His goal was to show retailers how to create celebrations for their communities, their industries, and their own businesses.

In 2009, Kerry Bannigan, Co-Founder of Nolcha®, launched Independent Retail Week, a week-long, city-wide shopping celebration in New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, and New Jersey and focused on promoting 400 independent fashion retailers. The city’s tourism boards, chambers of commerce, and Mayor’s office were all on board, and the week was featured on major news networks.

In 2011, Bannigan and Shay came together and discussed how they wanted the celebration to include all forms of independent retailing and rolled out the initiative we know today that July. 

“On average, 52.9% of each purchase at a local independent business is recirculated locally, compared to less than 13.6% of purchases at chain stores.” — American Independent Business Alliance

How can you participate and promote your independent retail business?

Participating in Independent Retailer Month is typically an excellent opportunity for independent retailers to promote their businesses. Here are just a few ways you may consider doing it:

  • Participate in local events: Joining local events and markets is typically a great way to showcase your products and attract new customers.
  • Offer special promotions: Create exclusive offers and discounts for your customers during the month to encourage them to shop at your store.
  • Collaborate with other businesses: Partner with other local businesses to offer joint promotions and cross-promotion opportunities.
  • Use social media: Share your Independent Retailer Month activities on social media to raise awareness and attract new customers. Be sure to use the hashtag #indieretail to be part of the community celebrating.

The Independent Retailer Month website is packed with resources and ideas, as well as downloadable materials like logos, posters, postcards, and sample correspondence you may personalize and distribute to local politicians to get them involved. You’ll also find social media assets you may use to show that your business is part of the movement. The site suggests taking advantage of the 4th of July to kick off your activities, leaning into the “independence” theme and catching customers when they’re likely to be enjoying a long weekend and looking for sales.

“Local retailers reinvest 130 percent more of their revenues than chain retailers and 676 percent more of their revenues than Amazon®.” — 2018 Home Sweet Home: Locals vs. Amazon study

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What are some benefits of participating in Independent Retailer Month?

Participating in Independent Retailer Month may bring several benefits to independent retailers, such as:

  • Increased exposure: By participating in events and activities, independent retailers may expand their reach and attract new customers.
  • Building loyalty: Celebrating Independent Retailer Month may build brand loyalty among current customers who appreciate the personal touch of independent businesses.
  • Community support: By supporting local events and businesses, independent retailers may also build their support network and connect with like-minded business owners.

“Each $100 spent at local independents generated $45 of secondary local spending, compared to $14 for a big-box chain.” — The Institute for Local Self-Reliance

Keep it going

Independent Retailer Month is generally an excellent opportunity for independent retailers to promote their businesses, gain exposure, and connect with their local communities. By participating in local events, offering special promotions, collaborating with other independent companies, and using social media, independent retailers may be able to make the most of this month-long campaign and boost their sales.

But July isn’t your only opportunity to tap into special celebrations to help connect to your community and grow your business. Check out our Marketing Calendar 2023: When to Promote Your Business for some great ideas you may want to consider using to promote your business during specific days and weeks throughout the year.

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