January, February and March traditionally are slower traffic times for many retail businesses. After the busy Christmas rush, the first three months of the new year present a time for merchants to catch a breath, re-stock, and yes, pay bills.
Locally, this year’s up and down weather swings haven’t helped to attract visitors to snow country either.
Retail has become more challenging over the past decade. Incentives matter. Well thought out promotions are critical.
It can be argued that the explosive growth of online shopping along with the increase in minimum wage, higher taxes, association fees and rising inventory costs have made opening a new retail business more of a risky venture than ever before.
A retail district or community promotion doesn’t always have to involve a festival, fireworks, food or music.
Sometimes the best promotion is a helping hand when it matters most.
Now this is a good idea!
In British Columbia, the Downtown Langley Business Association recognizes this and has come up with an interesting promotion to attract new businesses to its downtown. Through a creative marketing initiative, the association is looking to offset startup costs while at the same time assist with promoting the new business venture.
Start it Up Langley invites up and coming entrepreneurs from across British Columbia to enter a promotion for a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to win over $100,000 in prizes to help launch their new retail business in Downtown Langley!
To enter, participants are required to create a short (three-minute or less) video that details their business idea. The video would explain why their new business would make an excellent impact on the Downtown Langley business community, and talk about why the new business venture would set them apart from the competition.
Members of the public and local judges will evaluate the videos and select five finalists. Then, the process will be opened up to the public to vote for the grand prize winner.
Prizes include six months free rent in a new downtown retail space, full branding and marketing support, interior contracting, exterior signage, business banking account with $500.00, professional business coaching, print media advertising, city fees payment, promotional car wrapping, web site development, a grand opening reception and more.
Teri James, Executive Director of the Downtown Langley BIA told CollingwoodLiving.com that the City jumped on board as a sponsor by waiving permit and other fees to a maximum of $5,000. Otherwise, the promotion is a 100% Downtown Langley Business Association initiative.
“The response has surpassed our expectations in many ways. Sponsorship response (we have had six additional businesses want to be a sponsor since the contest went live), inquiries about the contest from interested entrepreneurs have poured in and many media outlets have picked up the story and run with it. This is the first time this contest has been offered by us and I believe it’s the first of it’s kind in the province, and perhaps even across Canada.”
In addition, Langley provides free parking to help attract more visitors.
“We want you to visit and we want you to stay. That’s why you won’t find a single parking meter in the City of Langley. For convenience to our many visitors, we have carefully plotted out our community with two hour, three hour and unlimited parking areas… all FREE!”
— from downtownlangley.com
Collingwood’s downtown district is the envy of many BIA’s across the country. Our Small Business Enterprise Centre provides assistance to entrepreneurs looking to invest in our community.
In today’s world, business associations everywhere are looking for more creative ways to help existing merchants succeed and to attract new businesses.
Every community has a different approach. We can all learn from each other.
Focusing directly to extend a helping hand to a business owner and/or business start-up is of immense value.
Downtown Langley British Columbia has hit a home run with this one.
— Paul Richards
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