Think about your favorite place to spend a long weekend: what do you love about going there? You'll probably say things like the weather or a change of scenery, but you'll also mention the local restaurants and shopping that help make your trip a complete and unique experience. Small businesses like these local restaurants and boutiques play a crucial role in making our communities a special place to visit and helping drive people to see them.
Not only do they help attract people to our communities, but they are also vital for our local economies. In fact, according to the Andersonville Study of Retail Economics, if you spend $100 at a small local business, $68 will stay in the community. When you spend $100 at a national chain, only $43 stays in the community, and virtually nothing does when you shop online. Additionally, small businesses account for a staggering 99% of jobs in the United States.
Look Local First
All these reasons—and more—are why we felt inspired to be a voice for small businesses. We noticed that one of the only large companies that actively spreads a message to shop at small businesses happens to be the credit card company that is the most expensive for businesses to accept. Not only that, but they typically focus their message around one day a year: Small Business Saturday. While we love their message, we thought supporting small businesses should be a year-round movement—and, thus, Look Local First was born. Look Local First is creating a community of people who all support and believe in the same thing: supporting our local businesses.
What We Do
Look Local First is spreading the message to quite literally look local first in three ways:
- Social media posts and advertisements
- News releases and blog articles
- Branded merchandise
Our goal is to raise awareness of the importance of these small business owners and inspire people to shop locally before looking to a national chain or online store.
How We Do It
One of the cool things we are doing is partnering with small businesses to spotlight them on social media. With so many moving parts to owning a business, sometimes a social media presence is understandably put on the back-burner. By spotlighting these businesses on our social media pages, we hope to help them expand their social media presence and get the word out about a big sale, new product, or even their existence! We also partner with businesses for online giveaways or coupons to help them gain followers and new customers.
We've had massive success with the social media side of our LLF movement and love the impact this is having so quickly! We actively send out news releases to local media outlets where we have supporters so that people can learn more about how their purchase choices impact the community.
Another fun thing we do is spread the word through stickers and t-shirts. We aren't trying to start a booming online store; instead, the goal is to develop other creative ways to get the "Look Local First" message in front of as many people as possible. If you buy a sticker or shirt and send us a picture of you wearing it, you could also be featured on our social media pages.
Since August 2019, Look Local First has been featured in the Digital Journal, on ABC, and with numerous local news outlets across the country!
Differentiating Our Programs
We’d also like to address the obvious: while Look Local First was started by VizyPay, a credit card processing company, we think it is essential to keep them completely separate. We will NEVER reach out to our LLF supporters for the credit card processing business. Our goal is to give small business owners a voice in their community, so people understand why supporting them is so important. While we hope somebody would consider us as an option if they get fed up with their current provider, we will never approach them for that purpose. We want to support all business owners, whether or not they are our clients.
So far, we have partnered with thousands of communities across the country through local chambers of commerce, social media, and people who have been sporting the merchandise. Chambers have been extraordinary in assisting their members with getting a window sticker on their business, sending in pics for our social media spotlight, and educating their members on our message.
Small businesses are the backbone of this country and deserve support. If you’d like to bring Look Local First to your community, it’s easy to start. You can join by putting an LLF window sticker up, wearing a t-shirt, or simply following and sharing our social media posts.
Are you a chamber of commerce wanting to join in? Ask us about our chamber boxes!
Small businesses: we’d love to feature you, mention any specials you have, or tell your story! Small businesses need us all, so let’s unite to make shopping local a LIFESTYLE.