The Shop Local Movement has become critical to small businesses in a time when big box stores and Internet retailers have become serious competition. This movement undoubtedly helps garden centers whether they participate in it’s promotion or not, but by really taking advantage of this new trend, you can boost sales dramatically.
The first step in getting involved in the shop local movement is to become a promoter. Invest in some signage for your store to spread the word and let your customers know that you’re a supporter. In many areas, you can join a business alliance. These groups usually require dues, but in return, you get marketing materials and support in educating customers about why it’s important to buy locally.
Even after customers have made the decision to support local businesses, they still have options when choosing where to shop. Make sure they choose your garden center by making your business stand out in the community. There are so many ways to get involved and get noticed. Participate and sponsor local events like festivals, parades, and philanthropy fundraisers. Host a potluck or farmers market with locally sourced food. Join a community board, donate, or volunteer. Offer a variety of free classes for gardeners of all kinds and interests, like a floral design for container gardens class. All this presents your brand to the community in a positive way.
Keep It Up
Now that the community recognizes your garden center as a local brand, you’re going to need to impress them to keep them around. They know why shopping locally is important, but you need to give them a reason to really value it. Do this with superior customer service and by building relationships with each of your customers. Implement a customer rewards program that will create customer loyalty. Look into a Customer Relation Management (CRM) tool to help you personalize promotions, like offering a coupon for the month of their birthday. Every community is different, so do some brainstorming to think about how you can connect with customers in your area and promote shopping local.