American Independent Business Alliance

Much of the festive atmosphere for Independents Week already will be in place.  Your media outreach will be a big factor in getting IW noticed. Here are some activity ideas to consider, both for your IBA and for individual businesses:


1)  The Indie Challenge The Indie Challenge is to try fulfilling all of one’s needs at local independent businesses for the week.  You can use the media to your advantage by informing them via press release and interviews about your challenge–and who you’re challenging. Consider inviting local radio/TV/newspaper personalities,  city council members, civic organization leaders and local celebrities. It’s a great opportunity to engage your local, county, state, and federal legislators not only in discussion, but participation. Use our button design, I’m Taking the Indie Challenge, and create and distribute buttons to challenge-takers. Be sure the media knows who is participating–certainly suggest checking in with participants throughout the week as a potential news story! Consider following up with participants to capture their thoughts on their experience–you may get some valuable quotes!   2)  “Find Your Independents!” Game This is a scavenger hunt for items and/or services offered by local indies. No purchase is necessary; players merely need to find the item noted on their game card, then get a stamp/sticker/signature from the participating business. Players provide their name and contact information for a prize drawing from participating businesses, which we suggest to culminate the game. We strongly suggest ensuring there are activities to engage children–including gift certificates for the drawing — as children heavily influence family spending! Here are some suggested ways to do this, but feel free to devise your own:
  • A)  Your group can collect prizes or gift certificates from participating businesses, divvy them up and have the drawing come from you.  Your group would collect the game cards, perhaps dropped off at participating businesses.
  • B)  Individual stores can hold their own drawings — your group collects items or gift certificates in the denomination and number participating stores want to provide, then distribute a mixed variety of certificates or items back to the stores (of similar value as their submission — example: a store contributes 4 certificates at $25 each; store receives an equivalent dollar amount of a variety of certificates–they may request a single $100 certificate, or choose to include one of their own certificates or products for the drawing).  This scenario invites some friendly competition among participating businesses who can strategize the benefit of offering one large gift or several smaller ones for the drawing.
You can determine your own rules. Be sure to print a rules sheet to have available at each participating business, that store employees are educated on the game and know the prizes, that you provide a collection box for participating stores. We’ve designed a game board for use that you can customize and print locally.  The brochure-style game card includes an educational message about the benefits to your community of local independent businesses, and the centerfold contains a grid with space to include items to find or a place for businesses to stamp or punch.  Your description of items or businesses can be straightforward or require a little more thought (e.g. which indies carry locally-sourced products?) Be sure to have fun — perhaps include items only found in your community, or include items you might need for an Independence Day party or a day at the beach. Variation: one community conducted a scavenger hunt for give-away items from participating businesses—items such as matchbooks, guitar picks, bookmarks, etc., then asked players to bring them to a designated turn-in location (you certainly could allow folks to keep the items); they needed a minimum number of those items to gain a chance in a big prize drawing. 3)  Hold a Kick-off Event or IBA-sponsored Events During the Week
  • Cash Mob a member business (s) using these cash mob tips and AMIBA’s money stamps to spread the pro-local message.
  • A street dance with local musicians and local businesses providing food/beverage (permits are required for this, but you might want to do this in a warehouse, at a local theater, or at a business with a lot of space).  A fun twist is to make this a potluck event.
  • Family picnic or pot luck meal with games and refreshments; invite your mayor, city council members, or local legislators
  • Moonlight pool party at a public pool (be sure to have lifeguards on hand).  You might consider doing this on July 4 at a pool with a view of the fireworks.  Invite folks to bring inflatables to lay on for the viewing.  Hold a barbecue or potluck to go along with it — encourage participants to use locally-produced food products in their offerings.
  • A “meet your food” event at a member grocery store (bring the farmers there) or a  tour of area farms that supply your locally owned grocery stores with produce, meats, dairy, etc.
  • A Keep [Our City] Weird/Indie/Strange/Boring 5k fun run sponsored by your IBA and local businesses.
  • A bicycle tour of the unique aspects of your community — if you have one or more locally-owned bike shops as members, they might be engaged to lead this.  This could be an alley tour, the “old” section of town, historic homes tour, a loop of the city, a critical mass ride, or a moonlight ride.  Stop afterward at a local ice cream shop for treats, or a local restaurant.  Perhaps have a picnic or sack lunches catered by one or more of your member restaurants.Encourage riders to decorate their bikes, and be sure to observe and proper safety rules for your ride.  Bike shops might provide a free bike evaluation/minor fix service to accompany the ride — or at any of your other events. You might encourage participants to ride their bicycles to other events with small rewards.
  • A kick-off sale day at all member businesses.
  • A sidewalk artists contest. Supply the sidewalk chalk and the judges.  Invite the media–you’re bound to get a front page picture or splash on television with the colorful results!  Provide prizes for different age/ability groups — coupons or goods from local businesses or local art supply store, restaurant gift certificates, etc.
  • Arrange a community dance with live music.  Look for local folklore society, folk music, dance studio or music store contacts for information on availability in your community and how this might be arranged.
  • Create a rhythm circle at one of your gatherings. Invite a locally-owned music store or class to supply some drums and percussion instruments and a drumming leader. It’s a great multi-age, multi-talent, interactive, community-building activity.
  • An outdoor movie screening.  Project the film on the wall of a building.  Be creative in your film selection, and be sure it is family-friendly. Encourage folks to dress up in the spirit of the movie (for example, show “Jaws” and folks come dressed for swimming, bring rafts, beach towels and inner tubes to sit on).
  • Engage local filmmakers, a film class, a community-access television station, or university class to film your events during the week documentary-style.  Create a movie from it and show the film at another community event, get it aired on community-access television, or collaborate with a local theater to present it as a community event–or present it as outdoor cinema as above–perhaps to culminate your week!  Be sure to include outtakes (in good taste and diplomatically, however).
  • Film screening.  Hold it after stores close down one evening, perhaps in a restored local theater or on the side of a building. See our Recommended Resources web page for some potential documentaries like Independent America: Rising From Ruins.
  • Enlist a few teenagers to lead games for kids while their parents shop at your community outdoor pedestrian mall or other commercial area (loaded with independent businesses) with an outdoor area. Local Girl Scout/other troops might be eager to help, as they can use this as a service project.
  • Giving back. Coordinate a “10% day (or other percentage)” to encourage participating businesses to give that percentage from a specific day’s or week’s till to the local charity of their choice. Advertise this well, and use it as a wonderful news peg for interviews (if you do this, make it part of your press release). Create a poster design that can be adapted for each store announcing the recipient of their proceeds. You can leave the charitable choices to the participating businesses or pick a few organizations that will benefit and engage them in helping promote your entire event. If you choose to do this, you’ve got another number to flaunt: the total dollars going to local charities/community organizations for the day or week.

In-store Promotion Ideas

  • Local musicians playing in-store
  • Local artists/writers to talk about, demonstrate or read from their work
  • Balloons to give away
  • Provide food samples from local restaurants or ice cream treats
  • Provide craft activities for kids that have to do with your business — we know of a great lumber/hardware store that pre-cuts pieces to make a tool box or a bird house from scrap lumber.  It’s a popular draw at community events!
  • Sales on locally-produced items or items from independent manufacturers
  • Cooperative events between businesses — like a progressive dinner deal (diners purchase a flat-rate pass or ticket, then can get it punched at participating restaurants for an appetizer, soup/salad, entrée, dessert.  Alcoholic beverages purchased separately.  Restaurants split proceeds based on what type of meals were redeemed there), coupons for coffee from a local café available at a local bagel shop–and vice versa.
  • Locally-owned newspapers or websites could hold an essay contest with a topic pertaining to Independents/independence.  Winning essays appear in the paper.  Winners get a gift certificate to a locally-owned business.
  • Radio stations can hold ticket or CD give-aways keyed on music with an “independent” theme.
Please share your ideas with AMIBA so we can provide additional ideas for future years!

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