Local businesses celebrate Independents Month

Local, independent businesses are banning together for the month of July to educate people about the number of valuable shopping experiences people can have in their own backyard.

Celebrate Your Independents Month brings together 25 retailers, restaurants, and service providers to enlighten people about the quality of local businesses and how crucial they are to the neighboring community, according to Jeff Warner, president of both Warners’ Stellian Appliance and the Metro Independent Business Alliance (MetroIBA), a non profit organization dedicated to preserving local businesses.

Kicking of the month will be a July 6 event at Calhoun Square. From 4:30 p.m. to 6 p.m., the public is invited to interact with the participating businesses to learn more about them and the month-long promotion.

To introduce participants to the 25 different businesses, a game card that features unique discounts for each business will be distributed. If a visit is made to a business, the game card will be stamped, and in turn, the participant will be entered into a drawing for a $50 gift card to the retailer, restaurant, or service provider they visited.  

“We are trying to create awareness of these businesses through public promotion,” Warner said.

When comparing independent businesses with national chains, about 40 percent more of every dollar spent at a local business stays in the neighborhood, according to the 2004 Andersonville Study of Retail Economics.

By the end of the month, Warner said he hopes people will be thinking about such statistics when deciding where to buy their next item.

“We want people to know there is a difference in where you choose to go, and we want them to know why there is a difference,” Warner said.

But Warner said the decision to shop local needs to be made beyond reasons to help the community; it needs to be made because the quality offered is above and beyond that of a national chain.
He said the MetroIBA hopes to share the superiority of the different local venders to people who otherwise would not think of going to a hardware store like Warners’ Stellian Appliance instead of a national chain, for example.

Darrel Besikof, co-owner of Bay Street Shoes, said local businesses such as Bay Street Shoes, which is participating in Independents Month, takes great pride in making the decision to shop local an enjoyable one by providing customers with staff that have years of experience in their craft.

“I think the world would be a much less comfortable place without businesses like us,” Besikof said.