posted on November 09, 2010 08:52
By Joe Borgstrom, Director
Specialized Technical Assistance
& Revitalization Strategy Division
Michigan State Housing Development Authority
On November 8, a coalition of statewide and regional partners, including the Michigan Main Street Center @ MSHDA, issued a statewide challenge to residents in the state of Michigan. The campaign, called the “ShopMIDowntown Holiday Challenge,” calls on Michiganders to spend seventy-five percent of their holiday shopping budgets in Michigan’s downtowns and Michigan Main StreetSM districts. The coalition knows that holiday spending the last few years has been tight, but wants to remind our state’s residents that when they support their downtown’s businesses, they are most often spending their money with locally-based small businesses. Supporting these businesses creates a greater economic impact and does more good for their community.
A 2008 study conducted for Think Local First in Grand Rapids, Michigan by Civic Economics showed that $73 out of every $100 spent locally stayed within the community, as opposed to $43 of every $100 spent in a business that was not locally owned. Furthermore, the study found that if consumers spent just 10 percent more in locally owned businesses, the economic impact could reach $140 million and result in up to 1600 new jobs in the Grand Rapids market alone. What if ALL of Michigan did this?
The Challenge with the Challenge
Now we are well aware that not all locally-owned businesses are downtown and not all businesses downtown are locally-owned. However, there is a very strong correlation between downtowns and locally-owned businesses. In our Selected and Master Level Michigan Main StreetSMcommunities, locally-owned and non-franchise businesses make up 85-95%of the businesses downtown. If we asked residents simply to “Shop Local”most people would probably agree it’s a good idea, but not always know what “local” means. Is “local” that chain store in my town? It’s local, right? I mean, its right over there. When we ask residents to shop “downtown,” there’s a much clearer understanding of where that is. We just happen to hit the sweet spot where local geography and locally-owned businesses converge most often. In essence, it’s an easier message that gets through.
How You Can Help
We wanted to make the challenge more than just brow beating the public into supporting their downtown businesses. For the ShopMIDowntown Holiday Challenge, we wanted to make this more interactive. We’ve created a Facebook page for Michigan’s residents to share their photos and videos of their favorite downtown businesses, http://www.facebook.com/ShopMIDowntown. Everyone who posts a photo or video of their favorite downtown business will automatically be entered into a random drawing for one of four overnight stays at the Ramsdell Inn in downtown Manistee, the Doherty Hotel in downtown Clare, the National House in downtown Marshall or the Courtland Carriage House Bed & Breakfast in downtown Hart. Clare, Hart, Manistee and Marshall are all either Selected or Master Level communities in the Michigan Main StreetSM program. We are grateful to these great establishments for generously donating the prizes to the coalition for the challenge.
How Businesses in Your Downtown Can Use This
This challenge is not limited to just Michigan Main StreetSM communities. Any community with a traditional downtown or traditional neighborhood commercial district is welcome to participate. We welcome any organization that represents these types of districts to use this campaign to challenge their residents to shop downtown. Downtown retailers can remind their customers to take a picture or video of their business and submit it to the Facebook page to be entered to win one of the stays. The coalition has created free resources for everyone to use, including a downloadable PDF retailers can print out and place in shopping bags and a flier for their shop windows. Downtown retailers and supporters can change their Facebook or other social media presence to the ShopMIDowntown logo to help raise awareness. If downtown retailers or supporters have a Twitter account, you can add a “ShopMIDowntown” twibbon to your profile picture to also raise awareness. Really, anything your downtown businesses and organizations can think of to help is welcomed. To access these resources, click here.
The challenge goes from November 8 through December 31, 2010.
A Grateful Acknowledgement
As faithful followers of the Main Street movement know, we preach the “R&D method,” otherwise known as “Rip-off and Duplicate.” The idea for the ShopMIDowntown Holiday Challenge was inspired by the efforts of Elizabeth Gorski-Morse, Sparta DDA Director and Chamber President. Elizabeth came up with an idea to challenge the residents of her town to do all of their holiday shopping downtown. The campaign, Christmas in Sparta, is documented by Elizabeth firsthand as she blogs using both photos and videos of the great gift ideas she finds in downtown Sparta. Thank you, Elizabeth for the inspiration. We are grateful for your creativity and willingness to share with the rest of your state.
Please share with us your ideas to promote your downtown this holiday season.