July 18th, 2018

Business Beat: Support local for the holidays

By Medicine Hat News on December 13, 2017.

Adding local businesses to your holiday shopping adventure is the perfect way to add impact to your gift-giving budget.

The numbers prove that shopping local, and shopping small, make a big difference in our local community. In 2016, for example, 60 per cent of the private sector was employed at a small or medium-sized businesses. Buying local means you are supporting the employment of friends and family in your community.

This is especially true over the holidays when many stores hire additional staff for the season, and when families often feel the impact of tight budgets.

If you are an owner of a business there are a couple of things you can do to encourage residents to shop local. While during this busy time the idea of one more thing to add to you’re to do list can seem daunting, here are a few easy to accomplish tips.

Host a holiday event — think of small events you can have in your store or online that are welcoming and can draw new customers. For example, if you are a retail business try having an afternoon happy hour where all guests that come in to shop can help themselves to a free coffee. Better yet, partner up with a local coffee shop to bring in their supplies and increase market awareness of both your product offerings.

Another option is to attend one of the numerous holiday events already happening in your community. These usually include a small tradeshow fee for showcasing your business along multiple other vendors, and the event company in return takes care of the marketing for you. A few even offer vendor exclusivity where you can be the only one selling your type of products or services.

Use social media to market your business — There is no denying that customers are increasing using online methods to make purchases. If you do not have an online purchasing option with your store, consider using social media promotions to get awareness of your products and services out. For example, if at your business customers can only purchase through storefront, offer incentives for potential customers to come into your store. This could be a small free gift for the first customer of the day from now till Dec. 24, promoted on your Facebook page.

Celebrate local by buying local — Be part of the solution by supporting other local business for your holiday events and office celebrations. Give gifts for your staff bought locally or host your staff Christmas lunch catered by a local restaurant, and don’t forget to encourage others to do the same. This recognition can easily be done on social media by thanking others for their service and giving businesses those valuable testimonials that can be seen publicly by their current and potential customers.

Here at the Entrepreneur Development Centre at Medicine Hat College, we are committed to this community and want to see entrepreneurs succeed. We look forward to shopping in your stores this holiday season, and hope you all have a happy and healthy economy!

The MHC Entrepreneur Development Centre helps student and alumni bring their entrepreneurship dreams to life. We offer one-to-one coaching, training, mentorship and access to a diverse network of start up funding. To connect into our network email edc@mhc.ab.ca or call 403-502-8433.

Tracy Stroud is manager of business development at Medicine Hat College.

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