Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Small Business vs. Town Politics: Water's Edge Cafe in Crisfield, Maryland

It's happening again folks....one more small business is up against their town over an issue that should be and is fixable. I'm sick over this. Waters Edge Cafe is in the same town that our cover photo on facebook is from - there are many more pictures just like it of vacant buildings, "for rent" signs and empty streets.

Back in September the owners had been very kind to me with a community project we were doing. As one of the only people who welcomed us to set up for the afternoon to connect with people, it really struck me that in town of forgotten buildings and departed businesses, that so many folks were coming to their restaurant that day. In the middle of the week, during the day. Because they are worth it.

When will community leaders "get it"? These laws and zoning restrictions and parking issues ARE fixable. Rulings can be changed and properties can be rezoned - but many small towns are already losing the things that matter - and yet when they have something wonderful come in, they don't seek to retain it. I'm floored. Here is the facebook post from the local newspaper, Crisfield-Somerset Times

Some of the comments on this topic show clearly how people feel.

"Why would the city REALLY want to deny the waiver?? Common sense. Please use common sense. Please waive this OR convert your picnic area to a parking lot. Closing this restaurant would be ONE more dagger in the back for this town! IS that what you really want??"

"I am completely dumbfounded by this. Why would "town leaders" want to give a thriving business such trouble? Common sense should prevail.... I support the restaurant...."

"This is ridiculous. Given the current economic status of the city it would be more prudent to grant a waiver. Preserving the existence of a thriving business that is loved and desired by the community should be enough to support a waiver. In addition perhaps it's time to review existing ordinances for their relevance in today's environment."

UPDATE 10/28/15: "Crisfield's parking problems to be addressed" - post from the Crisfield-Somerset County Times https://www.facebook.com/CSCountyTimes/posts/1160786617279592

UPDATE 12/3/15: Cash registers stolen from Crisfield cafe

Water's Edge Cafe is located in downtown Crisfield, Maryland.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Small Business Saturday 2015

It's almost that time of year again, when the big box stores pull out their deep discounts and slash prices to entice customers into their caverns - and away from the small retailers. Black Friday is now upstaged by Black Thursday, both of which I will be boycotting again this year just out of principle, so that I can spend more at the independents.

But there is so much to know about #SBS; how to plan for it, ride the train and tie in a promotion for your business. Partnering up with other indie retailers in the area is a brilliant idea so that you can all work to promote one another, your town, main street or local area as a destination and then share in the rewards. A multi-layered marketing campaign which works to attract visitors across a wider platform, say for example geared towards the whole family, is a win win for any community. Pair up the specials and rewards so that while mom is buying for her sisters, the kids are enjoying pizza at the arcade and dad is kicking back with a personalized shopping assistant in another store. 

Small Business Saturday is happening on November 28th, 2015 and there are more perks and ways to get the word out than ever before! Here are links to a number of useful sites: 

Learn about #SBS at https://www.americanexpress.com/us/small-business/shop-small and on facebook at https://www.facebook.com/SmallBusinessSaturday/

Marketing materials such as posters, banners,  specialty listings on Amex's site and more:
Promotional ideas for small businesses: despite this article being from a few years ago, there are several ideas for building interest such as starting the process of connecting with your customers early, as well as ways to make the day stand out and have a "special event feel" to it. 

Another site from Amex reminds you to plan early, build buzz and "make your shop irresistable": https://www.americanexpress.com/us/small-business/shop-small/promote

The PicsArt photo editor (available for download in the Play Store) again is offering the clip art package for Small Business Saturday free. Unfortunately it wasn't updated from 2014 so two of the graphics have the wrong date (the correct one is the 28th).  

However, the the other designs are kind of neat to drop onto pictures of your own storefront or town to tie in your retail establishment with the white and blue theme. http://picsart.com/

In addition to these resources, the American Independent Business Alliance (not affiliated with American Express), has wonderful guidelines and resources for small business owners. Check out their "Holiday Campaign and Event Ideas" at the following links which feature a number of towns and communities across the country working to promote their main streets and downtowns in unique ways. From signage to stamping currency with a pro-local message to window displays, there are plenty of ideas to get your team excited and energized. 


"Buy Local banners and tools illustrating the power of spending locally:


Whatever you do, make sure to spread the word that YOU are 
proud to represent an independently-owned business and are eager to welcome - and reward - customers who visit your establishment.

Follow us and join the movement towards supporting locally-owned retailers! 
Live Local USA | "The voice of independent businesses"