While we’re not completely out of the woods yet from the COVID-19 health crisis, we’ve come far enough that seeing our loved ones in person this holiday season and joining in some actual (versus virtual) merriment is looking like a real possibility. However, both shoppers and businesses have new challenges facing them this season. Holiday shopping, at least for the latest tech gadget or wish list item, is shaping up to be a huge mess. Shipping container logjams, supply chain bottlenecks, and shortages of truck drivers to deliver items across the country have caused inventory shortages at nearly every big-box store. In fact, holiday shopping will look different this year for many reasons – consumers have adopted different shopping habits that prioritize the value of their time and personal relationships, while business owners have spent the past year optimizing their websites for mobile compatibility, incorporating e-commerce, and adjusting their marketing to adapt to the new needs and desires of their customers.
The significance of this time of year for small businesses is hard to overstate. For many businesses, the period between Thanksgiving and New Year represents 15% – 25% of their annual revenue. After the challenges small businesses have faced during the past 18 months, this year’s holiday shopping season will be more impactful than ever. To help our small businesses get back on their feet, serving their communities in the way that they do best, the West Virginia Small Business Development Center (WV SBDC) created a campaign called “Come In, We’re Open” (#WeAreOpenWV) to help small business owners spread awareness that they are ready to welcome back the customers they’ve missed since they closed their doors in March 2020 and to welcome new customers who realize more than ever that where and how they spend their money matters.
How can “Come In, We’re Open” help consumers?
You can see all of the businesses who have joined the “Come In, We’re Open” campaign on the WV SBDC’s Facebook page by following the hashtag #WeAreOpenWV. We encourage you to get out there and support your community’s small businesses by:
1. Following and engaging with small businesses on social media. Like, react, comment and respond, share their posts and leave positive reviews and recommendations.
2. Visiting their storefronts respectfully, following health precautions set forth by business owners.
3. Making purchases from the small businesses in your community in-person and/or online.
How can my business participate in the “Come In, We’re Open” campaign?
Small business owners can spread the word that you’re open and welcoming customers by visiting the WV SBDC website for a downable sign and a social media toolkit and then:
1. Print out a “Come In, We’re Open” sign and hang it somewhere visible in your store.
2. Snap a photo of the sign (either hanging in the store OR employees/owners posing with the sign) and share it on your social media channels.
3. On your social media channels, tell us why you are participating in the campaign or why you love being a small business owner in WV! Make sure to tag @WVSBDC and use the hashtags #WeAreOpenWV #WVSBDC.
What can our Community do?
We also encourage local community partners (mayors, chambers of commerce, Main Street programs, banks, etc.) to share this campaign with the small business owners in your community and encourage local support by:
1. Sharing the “Come In, We’re Open” campaign with the businesses where you shop, dine, and play to encourage their participation
2. Including the “Come In, We’re Open” webpage and the social media toolkit in your newsletters and social media outreach.
3. Announcing it during meetings, events, and webinars to encourage participation.
4. Amplifying content from participating small businesses in your outreach materials and social media by following and sharing #WeAreOpenWV Facebook posts.
About the Author
Debra Martin is the State Director of the West Virginia Small Business Development Center (SBDC)
Network. She joined the SBDC in 2013 as Deputy Director and was named State Director in February
2019. Prior to the SBDC, she spent 15 years with the International Division of the West Virginia
Development Office, helping WV businesses to export their products and leading more than 30 trade
missions to countries in Europe, Asia, Africa, and North and South America.
She earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in International Relations from West Virginia University, including
study abroad at the Université de Caen and the Universiteit van Amsterdam; and did graduate work in
International Relations at the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University. She
is a Certified Global Business Professional (CGBP), a Certified Business Advisor (CBA), and has additional
certifications in Historic Real Estate Finance and Historic Preservation. She is a member of several
distinguished regional and national boards and associations, including the America’s SBDC Accreditation
and Legislative Committees; West Virginia Women’s Business Center; Preservation Alliance of West
Virginia; First Microloan of West Virginia; and the Scholarship Review Committee of the Greater Kanawha
Debra grew up in Quinnimont, WV, an area which is now a part of the New River Gorge National Park.