Community Retailing Grows Sales

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Community Retailing Grows Sales

By John Stanley Big is better, this was a call to action as recently as a few years ago, it is rarely used in the marketplace today. New “buzz” words have arrived like, sustainability, carbon footprint and community retailing, these are the new words being used at conferences and in the press. These are not just words; they can be developed into strategic action plans that can make a difference to a community. The growth in retailing is coming from neighbour to neighbour marketing strategies. Small independent retailers with passion and the right skills are going to have successful business over the coming years, but they must have a sense of community. Show You Care and Give Back Community Retailing is about showing your customers that you care and you care enough to direct a percentage of your profits to that cause. The challenge is what do you get behind and support in a world that needs help in so many ways. But, in some ways, it’s not a challenge as long as you have a strong belief that you can make a difference, even in a small way. Be specific and focused, plus try and relate your community focus to something aligned with your business. The following examples I hope will stimulate some ideas for your own business: Grosvenor Garden Centre is located near Chester in Cheshire, England. It is located in a rural setting and one of the fastest growing categories in the store is bird boxes and bird food. The company has joined forces with the Cheshire Wildlife Trust and their logo is incorporated into the departmental signage. A percentage of sales go towards the trust. Grosvenor knows that customers coming to this category are bird lovers and a community interest would be the country wildlife organisation of which many consumers will already belong to. IKEA may be a global business with stores in 32 countries, but it is a company that has a mission to connect with the local community. In the UK 70% of children have never been in a forest. Charlie Brown, the Environmental Director for IKEA UK has therefore taken the initiative to donate money to “Community Forests”, an organisation that takes the classroom into the forest. Children are taught mathematics, geography, biology and other classes using materials in the forest. These kids are bound to grow up being IKEA advocates. Community does not necessarily mean local. Alan and Felicity Down, like me, are passionate about Africa, except Alan and Felicity don’t live in Africa, they live in Somerset, England and are the owners of Cleeve Nursery in the village of Cleeve. They have joined forces with Garden Africa, an organisation that funds horticultural projects in sub-Saharan Africa. Garden Africa works with garden centres who donate a percentage of sales to the organisation. 95% of the donation is used directly in Africa by volunteers who are using the money with schools, hospitals, health and community groups to establish healthy gardens and production nurseries. In return for the donation Garden Africa organises an African “festival” in store. The Cleeve Nursery event introduced an African cookery demonstration and sampling, South African wine tasting, African drumming and dancing, a talk on plants from the Western Cape of South Africa, face painting and a talk on African herbal plants. (www.gardenafrica.org.uk) Community Retail promotions can cover a number of different approaches; they could directly benefit your community, communities in other areas with similar challenges or community projects that are linked to what you do. But, with the increased interest in neighbour to neighbour marketing you need to be seen as the neighbour who cares. John Stanley is an internationally recognised conference speaker and retail consultant with over 25 years experience in 18 countries. He has authored several successful marketing and retail books including the best seller Just About Everything a Retail Manager Needs to Know. John’s retail experience covers hands-on retailing in supermarkets, hardware stores, garden centres, farmers markets and drug stores. For more information John Stanley and his services visit his website www.johnstanley.cc