It’s Small Business Season and if you want to entice more of your community to shop local, you should try a two-pronged approach. First, you need to educate them on the importance of why they should do it (from their perspective). Secondly, you’ll want to make it fun for them. Not only does fun motivate buyers to action, but it also gets them talking about it on social media. That alone can mean big traffic for your community members and small businesses.

Why Should Customers Shop Local This Holiday?

When you’re running a shop local campaign, you want to make sure people understand the benefits of doing so. It’s easy to say “support your neighbors” but that’s often not enough of a reason to get them to forgo the convenience of the mega retailers online. After all, it’s so much easier to do your shopping with a couple of clicks of a button (and on your schedule) than it is fighting the crowds and finding a parking space. You need to show your community what’s in it for them and it better be something more than “helping their neighbors.”

Here are a few ideas you can use (as is, speaking directly to your audience):

Helping to Create Jobs: By shopping local, you are supporting small businesses, which, in turn, can create jobs, stimulate the local economy, and contribute to the overall well-being of our community. A good economy has ripple effects that are felt by everyone.

Giving Unique and Handcrafted Gifts: Many local shops, artisans, and crafters offer unique, handcrafted, and one-of-a-kind items you won’t find in larger chain stores. By shopping local, you can discover special gifts that have a personal touch, making your presents more meaningful and memorable.

Receiving Personalized Service: Local businesses often provide a more personalized and attentive shopping experience. The owners and staff are more likely to know their products well and can offer recommendations, assistance, and may even have gift-wrapping services to make your shopping easier and more enjoyable.

Minimizing Your Environmental Impact: Shopping locally can reduce the carbon footprint associated with your purchases. When you buy from local stores, products typically travel shorter distances, which can lead to lower transportation-related emissions and support sustainability.

Preserving Community Character: Local businesses contribute to the unique character and charm of our community. By shopping local, you help maintain the distinctiveness of our neighborhoods and town. This can be especially important during the holiday season when our community decorates and celebrates its traditions.

Keeping Dollars in the Community: Money spent at local businesses is more likely to circulate within the local economy ($68 out of $100 spent locally stays here). Our businesses often source their supplies and services locally, hire local employees, and pay local taxes. These things contribute to the economic well-being of the community.

Strengthening Relationships: Shopping at local businesses can foster a sense of community and strengthen social ties. You may run into neighbors, friends, or acquaintances while shopping, which can lead to valuable social interactions and a stronger sense of connection.

Getting Support for Your Interests and Causes: When you support local businesses, they are more likely to support your local causes, events, and charities. This creates a cycle of community support and goodwill, where businesses and residents work together to enhance the quality of life in the area.

Supporting Good Corporate Citizenship/Greater Transparency and Accountability: Local businesses are often more transparent about their business practices, which can make it easier to support ethical and sustainable products and services.

Additionally, remind your community members that buying local doesn’t mean they have to be “in store.”

Retaining Ease: Shopping local during the holiday season doesn’t require sacrificing convenience. Many local businesses and artisans offer online ordering. (If your chamber has a list of online businesses, you could share it or create an online gift-giving guide.)

Fun Activities for Small Business Season

Now that you have presented them with the “why,” you need something fun to incentivize shopping.

Here are a few unconventional ideas:

  • Local Business Superlatives. Host a "Local Business Superlatives" contest, where you invite the community to nominate and vote for businesses in various categories, such as "Most Instagrammable Store," "Best Storefront Display," or "Coziest Cafe." Highlight the winners and their stories in your blog post.
  • Behind-the-Scenes Business Tours. Partner with local businesses to offer exclusive behind-the-scenes tours. Share the unique stories, challenges, and innovations of these businesses, giving readers an inside look at what makes them special. Include a video or photo tour in your blog post.
  • Local Business Storytelling Night. Host a storytelling event where local business owners can share their personal and entrepreneurial journeys. Capture these stories in a blog post, giving readers an emotional connection to the people behind the businesses.
  • Shop Local Recipe Exchange. Create a blog post that highlights local restaurants and food-related businesses. Encourage readers to share their favorite recipes that incorporate ingredients or products from these local businesses. Include a collection of these recipes in your post.
  • Shop Local Art Showcase. Partner with local artists to create artwork inspired by small businesses in your community. Feature the artwork in a virtual or physical art showcase, and highlight the connections between art and local businesses in your blog post.
  • Hidden Gems Photo Contest. Launch a photography contest where residents can submit their best shots of hidden gems in the community, such as unique architectural details, street art, or lesser-known businesses. Showcase the winning photographs in your blog post.
  • Local Business Field Day. Create a friendly competition among local businesses, such as a relay race, obstacle course, or even a cooking challenge. Document the event and share the results, showcasing the camaraderie and competitive spirit among local entrepreneurs.

These unique ideas should help you engage your community and inspire them to promote small businesses and local shopping in creative and unusual ways.

Want a few bonus ideas that have worked in other communities? Sure, you do. Here are some proven activities:

Shop Local Bingo

Create a Shop Local (or use the Small Business Season) Bingo card featuring unique businesses in your town or city. Encourage residents to visit these businesses and collect stamps or stickers for each square on the card. Make it a fun and interactive game to boost foot traffic and community engagement.

Shop Local Scavenger Hunt

Organize a city-wide scavenger hunt that leads participants to various local businesses. Create clues and challenges that encourage people to explore and discover hidden gems in the community. Document the experience in your blog post and share participant stories.

Shop Local Challenge

Challenge local influencers, celebrities, or community leaders to shop exclusively at local businesses for a certain period and document their experiences. Share their stories, struggles, and triumphs in your blog post.

Make a big impact on small businesses and your chamber's success by participating in Small Business Season. If your chamber is not already signed up, go to You can come in at the Basic Level or the Professional Level.

Small Business Season is not just a campaign; it's a movement to support the backbone of our communities. Together, let's make this year's holiday the most prosperous yet for our local communities! 

Join us for Small Business Season!


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