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One of the greatest obstacles to local retail is learning to work together, instead of against each other. In business, we are so accustomed to seeing everyone around us as potential competition – or potential customers – rather than potential partners. We want shoppers in our shop – not in our neighbor’s shop. We want people visiting and returning to us – not them.

However, this “us vs. them” philosophy is missing the bigger picture. A 2013 study out of British Columbia found that revenue from small business retailers and restaurants recirculates locally 2.6 times more than chain or big box competitors. In other words, even when shoppers are in your neighbor’s store, the money they spend will come around again. It feeds the economy. It’s what keeps your doors open. Not to mention, this local spending increases supply chains, supports local jobs, and generally raises awareness and loyalty.

But it’s about the small picture too. Partnerships, even if informal, can be powerful drivers for your own business. When you are working together, you can build excitement and interest in and around your community. Together you can develop events, experiences, special products, unique opportunities, education, advocacy, charitable promotions, and more. The Public Relations, Media, Marketing, and Sales that come from all these directly impact your business today and into the future. They bring people to your shop, they bring eyeballs to your brand and logo, they tell your story and give you a story to tell.

Start looking around to see with whom you can partner. Who has a similar mission? Who shares retail space? Who has a story like yours? Whose products complement yours?

Make those connections and watch your businesses grow together.