Hinsdale sees mixed results for shop small business initiative
Jeff Holland of Hinsdale gave his daughter Kati one of his wristwatches, which Razny Jewelers resized to fit her. | Kimberly Fornek~Sun-Times Media
The Economic Development Commission received 27 responses to a 10-question survey on its shop local campaign.
10 businesses agreed the promotion increased business more than a typical Friday and Saturday
10 disagreed business was better
7 were neutral.
19 supplemented the village’s advertising with their own emails, telephone calls or print ads
19 reported the free parking without time restrictions during the two-day event was “very important”
3 said it was “somewhat important”
5 replied it was not important.
12 businesses liked the customer appreciation theme
Updated: July 8, 2012 6:19PM
Hinsdale’s recent Shop Small Business promotion yielded mixed results.
Steven Potter, owner of Hinsdale Clothiers, said the men’s apparel store had a very sizeable increase in sales during the event.
The village promoted the campaign to encourage residents to support their local businesses, with a direct mail advertisement sent to every Hinsdale household, along with banners, websites listing special offers, and balloons outside participating merchants.
Economic Development Director Timothy Scott reported 67 businesses participated, which was only three more than last year, despite an increase in organization and promotion.
“We were hoping for a greater response,” Potter said. “The (economic development) commission put in much more effort to encourage retailers to market and to network together. We were helping them market their stores.”
Potter also did his own promotions, tailored to his customers.
“We had wine tasting and hors d’oeuvres. We had a special event with an Italian clothing maker,” he said. “If someone bought a suit, they got a blazer for free.”
The suits ranged in price from $895 to $1,195. The blazers cost an average of $475.
“It was not low-grade merchandise,” Potter said.
In the four to five weeks leading up to the “shop small business” weekend, Potter said he telephoned 350 customers to encourage them to take advantage of the special merchandise and promotions. “It was a lot of work,” he said, but it increased his sales “significantly.”
Luis Alvarez of Razny Jewelers also made personal calls to customers. Sales at Razny actually were better the Saturday before Mother’s Day than they were during the Shop Small Business days the previous weekend.
It’s not surprising business would be brisk in a jewelry shop on the eve of Mother’s Day. But Alvarez reports sales were considerably more than they had been on the same day in previous years. He attributes this to an improving economy and to his promoting the small business campaign.
“We had a residual effect from the promotion,” Alvarez said.
Some customers he called had told him they could not come on May 3 or 4, but they would be in the following week.
“They came and they bought little things and they bought big things,” Alvarez said.
The store owners who profited from the May event were “those who called their customers or had some sort of incentive.” Those who did nothing special and “expected the event to bring them business were disappointed,” Alvarez said.