I spent a couple of days last month touring Lake Arrowhead, California, meeting merchants and retailers, talking to residents, and holding a work session with the board of the Village Merchants Association. They have a ton of natural assets, great ideas, but have trouble getting the merchants to come together toward common goals. They’ve struggled to build a sense of community.
Many of you have the same challenge: getting local business owners to work together.
We talked about a couple of basic things, like making a current list of the store owners and managers so they can stay in touch. But the idea that really got them excited was a block party for the merchants. They just lit up! They knew just the right spot in the center of the village, and ideas started flying.
Building community among your business owners is just as important as building community at large.
It’s hard to get people to attend regular meetings when they don’t feel connected, especially when meetings have felt boring or pointless in the past.
But it’s easier to get people to come to a party!
It doesn’t have to be a block party. It can be other simple things:
- Jam sessions for similar businesses (one for food and drink, one for retail…)
- Private Facebook groups
- Sharing supplies or resources
Get together with a few local business folks and see what you come up with. Use all your skills in building community like you would with any other group.
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Leslie McLellan says
We loved all of your ideas when you met with us at Lake Arrowhead Becky! Since we’re in the middle of our high season we are planning the block party for after Labor Day. In the meantime the list of merchants is put together and we are planning new ways to interact together including having set up a private Facebook page for all to communicate back and forth. While the FB page has been set up for a while, it will be formally “kicked off” at the block party. Building community isn’t rocket science, but it does take leadership. You helped the board see what they can do and they are looking forward to moving ahead and getting everyone on the same page!!
Andrea Powers says
Hey Leslie, I am wondering when you are holding your block party such that business owners are not working? Also what types of things you will be doing at the party. A suggestion I have had is a store walk through for all the business owners since they never get a chance to see the other businesses in town. I would love to put something like this on and looking for advice/input.
Leslie McLellan says
We will be holding the party right after Labor Day as we are jammed right how with summer tourists. What we’re going to do is have the party at “Center Stage” in the middle of our Village, most likely later in the day. The purpose of this party is for team building. We’re putting together a complete contact list of store owners which we will share at the party and we also will launch our private Facebook group at the party too. This party will be a building block for other merchant activities to come. It’s to be a networking opportunity and a way to market our merchant association and show off what the association has accomplished over the past year or so and what is on the horizon. Hope that helps Andrea!
Sharon McCormick says
I loved it when Becky came it was so informative…we can also let the merchants know about putting up displays in Santas Workshop at the Bloch party…