There certainly was a silver lining to the rain clouds that postponed this year’s Buy Local Expo. The delay gave organizers two additional weeks to promote the 2nd annual event. And any notion of a sophomore slump was squashed as the Expo's “Get Caught with your Receipt Showing” raffle garnered over $44,000 dollars' worth of receipts in just four hours. Even with the morning drizzlerains, the resilience of the vendors was steadfast. A total of 88 of the 90 vendors weathered the early day storms, to what turned out to be a very successful event for all who were involved
“In my years of doing these kinds of expos, events, festivals, and fairs, I found the exhibitors to be very enthusiastic. Many had wonderful displays in their booths, and really put their best foot forward.” said Laurel Rosen, President of the Santa Monica Chamber of Commerce. The Expo is a major event of the SM Chamber, organized in partnership with the Buy Local SM Committee, Downtown SM Inc and the SM Malibu Education Foundation.
The exhibitors, whoich lined up and down the Third Street Promenade, helped demonstrate the wide variety of goods and services offered by our local businesses. The free demonstrations, live music and food samples were a big hit in attracting crowds of people to the event.
The Expo was a combination of a small business mixer to meet and greet with other business owners, and a local street fair to promote products and services to the public, and of course make a little bit of money.
“We had a booth at the Expo and we set up free demonstrations. We got a bunch of names to add to our mailing list. We got a bunch of people - 30 or so - that wanted to try a free class. We’re hopeful of converting some of these folks into new customers,” said Ron Flaska of Longevity Martial Arts?
“There was a great energy, I personally went around and talked to every single business owner.” Ron added.
For a business like the happy-hour finder website Block Beacon, it was a chance to get some face time with the people—both fellow local businesses and the public at large. “Buy Local Expo really allowed Block Beacon to interact with the locals. Said Kristina Gong the Director of Sales and Marketing.
“We are proud members of the Santa Monica Chamber and of the Buy Local SM campaign and we’re thrilled to be part of the Santa Monica community and can’t wait for next year.” Added Kristina.
Concurrent with the Expo was the citywide Buy Local Weekend. Over 100 businesses participated in the Buy Local citywide special offers and sidewalk sales, organized in partnership with the local merchants associations. Pico merchant Peter Path of Acapillow offered a 10-80% off Buy Local sale for the weekend, talking it a step further and promoting the event on his website, social media and to his customers. “It was our best day yet! Being part of Buy Local Weekend helped us increase our sales over 50% and it was a great opportunity to clear some old stock from our showroom. ”
This year, the Buy Local Expo Committee partnered with BlockBeacon to list and map out the Buy Local specials and citywide events. “It was exciting to see our city covered with Buy Local flags. Businesses in all corners of Santa Monica were actively part of the Buy Local Weekend,” said Jennifer Taylor, Buy Local SM Committee Chair.
A Buy Local Scavenger Hunt was also created for the weekend, in effort to encourage residents (and visitors) to explore SM’s commercial districts and get to know local businesses. Twenty lucky people won prizes from the hunt, all donated from the participating businesses.
Press efforts, led by Kim Koury of SPIN PR, also paid off. Concentrating primarily on social media outlets, SPIN was able to increase the Buy Local Facebook fans by 50% and the reach by 800%. Kim’s helpful menu of tweets and posts were used by many local businesses to fuel the marketing efforts.
Like any good festival, The Buy Local Expo had its fair share of music, games, raffles, and promotions. Draw the crowd in, and get the “Buy Local” word out was the goal. Everyone has heard the saying ‘Everyday is Earth Day.’ The same applies Buy Local. The Expo is a culmination of the entire Buy Local campaign.
Small businesses are all too accustomed to weathering a storm. However, anyone who lives in the Southland knows when the rains dissipate and the clouds clear, there is no better place to be. The Buy Local Expo, and all those who participated, helped the campaign’s message of supporting local business shine much brighter and paved the way for great Buy Local events to come.