Local Merchant's Association in your town?

Maria Nucci Designs

CGF, Certified Grumble Framer
Jul 13, 2002
Asheville, NC
A few retailers in our small town have started a group that is focused on bringing retail traffic into our town.

We are, after all, a beautiful New England town.

This is not a chamber of commerce kind of thing or organized under any association.

They are also trying to inform current residents of the services that exist here.

Not bad goals.

Have others had experience with a group like this?
I am the current President of our local Merchant Association. Our Merchant Association is an arm of our Chamber of Commerce. We have our own bylaws, budget, dues, goals, etc. A lot of what we do, is focused on bringing retail traffic into the village where the shops are located and gets reviewed by the chamber board if we want funding support. We are able to do things at the smaller group level that would never get done if we had to wait for agreement of 350 chamber members.

Retail has been slow here in the last year and a half, and we are currently working on a branding program with a local small ad agency that we invited as a member for advisement in exchange for the dues. It has been well worth it.

One of our biggest issues, is getting it out to the local people what we have and getting them to shop locally. Our small town newspapers have been helpful with that - local store trivia, other types of ads that talk about local shopping, etc. I have a banner on my store sign that states "support your community, shop local"

We have a pretty good group of core people - the ones who do all the work (and it is a lot of extra work if done properly) and other members who show up at meetings once in a while and basically reap the benefits of our work.

If you have more questions, please feel free to call me. We are located in a small New England village that is a popular tourist destination. Check our the website www.skaneateles.com for our chamber info, you won't see the merchant assoc. info there, just shopping listings of the members.

We are part of the Fremont Business Association, and have been huge boosters of such interest drivers as Fremont Fest [including a parade for kids primarily that was over 5 blocks long this year, BBQs, artists, church ladies cookies, etc], as well as the afore mentioned Ads on Bags [Placemat Ads thread] that several merchants thought were successful.
This shopping district is only 9 blocks long, but is becoming one of the recognized "streets" in Portland.
We have a "Tatnuck Merchants Association" that does essentially nothing.

Once a year a bunch of volunteers get together and do a massive cleanup and plant flowers adn such. (NO advertising, because that's "tacky.")

I guess it's nice to keep the area looking good, but that's about all they do. I tried to get them to "swap coupons" or have "business card centers" in each store that promoted other stores in the square, and it broke down into arguing because there are a few "spas" and a couple of jewelry stores, and two window tratment places and ... you get the idea. No one wanted to "advertise" for the "competition."

Sad really.
This is all interesting.

I think it could work here. All our merchants are friendly (for now anyway) and have similar goals for their businesses. We're trying to keep it retail.

One big concern of mine is the administration of such an entity. Is it a non-profit? Do we need a lawyer and an accountatnt?

I like Elaine's group as a part of the Chamber of Commerce. Probably eliminates a lot of the technical headaches.
Our Business Assoc takes in no money, so it has no real structure.

Our Neighborhood Assoc, on the other hand is a C3.