A dozen independent businesses in Charleston, West Virginia, have banded together to promote one another and the idea of supporting locally owned businesses.
In November, the group began running print, television, and radio advertisements. The print ads read, "Supporting your locally owned stores keeps your dollars in our community. Not only do we provide the best service and selection, but we service what we sell and most importantly, take care of our customers."
The ads include joint coupons that can be redeemed at any of the businesses. Barry Ogrin, owner of the Charleston Department Store, collected more than 400 coupons within the first few days.
Other businesses in the group, called the Kanawha Independent Merchants after the Kanawha Valley, include Kelley’s Men’s Shop, Pile Hardware, SportMart, Save Supply, Foto 1, Drug Emporium, Calvin Broyles Jewelers, Sodaro’s Electronics, Andrews Floor & Wall Covering, and Goldfarb Electric Supply.
One of the group’s co-founders, Don Tate of Fas-Check, said the association could evolve beyond joint advertising to take on an active role in local affairs. The association has already begun to voice complaints about the subsidies that the city routinely gives chain retailers. "We’ve watched giants like Wal-Mart get the tax breaks, which independent merchants don’t get. We wonder where’s the fairness of the whole situation," Tate said.
The group is hoping to block a plan by the city to lease land it purchased for $5.5 million to Dillard’s, an upscale department store chain, for $1 a year. The company has also requested $7.5 million in subsidies from a city program designed to help low- and moderate-income families.
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