Events

Why we need Buy Local Month more than ever

Retail Alliance recognizes the need for more support of local businesses and this year approached the Hampton Roads Planning District Commission with the idea to proclaim Buy Local Month for Nov. 15 through Dec. 15. The commission signed a resolution July 18 acknowledging the special month “to bring the region together in supporting and celebrating local independent businesses and the impact they have on the region’s culture, economy and character.”

The time frame is significant due to the holidays being the busiest shopping period and the time that makes or breaks a small business. The resolution ends, however, with the phrase: “Buy local for the holidays and throughout the year.”

When Retail Alliance surveyed its members before and after the 2018 holidays, the biggest challenges noted were “limited marketing and advertising dollars” and “consumers’ lack of awareness of locally owned businesses.”

In an area with a transient population of military and college students, big-box stores have the advantage of name recognition and therefore an advantage over small businesses. In the age of one-click purchases, it’s up to all of us to act and buy local or to put it more bluntly, we must support what we love, or risk losing it.

There is a direct multiplier making the effect three or more times greater when people spend with independent stores, compared to patronizing chain outlets. When the shop owner pays local sales tax, pays rent to a local property owner, prints its menu locally, uses a local attorney or sources local beer, all this tax revenue keeps circulating again and again.

When we shop at a big-box store there is a much smaller return to a local economy, particularly if that company has been given a tax break or some other incentive to operate in that locality.

And it’s not only economic benefits that come from shopping local. The sense of community we have in Hampton Roads, all that makes us unique, is largely a result of our small businesses – often the backbone of our communities. Where we dine with friends, where we take out-of-town guests to show off hidden treasures, where we buy gifts and where we enjoy craft spirits are what build the coastal Virginia culture and character.

Beyond the sense of community, it’s also jobs and livelihood. Studies show that locally owned businesses employ more people per unit of sales, and retain more employees during economic downturns, while big-box stores reduce the number of retail jobs in a region or close completely. Small businesses often pay higher than minimum wage and allow more flexible hours.

Democracy is also affected. When a high number of owners are also residents with ties to the community, there is more involvement in key decisions that shape our lives./p>

Small businesses inherently have more environmental stewardship, typically locating in existing buildings, consuming less land, carrying more locally made products, locating closer to residents and creating less traffic and pollution. In an area combating sea level rise, every action counts.

Let us lean in. We have a determined small business community and an ever-growing entrepreneurial movement across Hampton Roads. Look for each of the 17 localities to promote and uphold this celebration in support of small businesses.

If every household shifted just 10% more to local spending the investment would be significant. Public school funding, infrastructure projects and emergency responder budgets all would benefit and that alone is worth supporting.

Lisa Renee Jennings is LOVEVA Buy Local program manager for the Retail Alliance. Reach her at ljennings@retailalliance.com.

LOVEVA App Gets a Little Help from its Local Friends

June 4, 2019, Hampton Roads, VA – Banding local businesses together across Hampton Roads is not easy, but it has been the aim of the LOVEVA app since 2014. LOVEVA is the unique shopping app that bands together local businesses to reward consumers for keeping their hard-earned dollars in their local community. Consumers can buy at ANY participating business and also redeem at ANY participating business, not just where they have earned their ‘love’.

As the investor behind LOVEVA, Retail Alliance puts their money where their mouth is, partnering with local businesses to develop and continuously improve the LOVEVA app. Two of these businesses stand out for their contributions to the development and ongoing success of the app: TowneBank and TechArk Solutions.

“We endeavor to keep all things local with LOVEVA,” remarked Lisa Renée Jennings, LOVEVA Program Manager. “That encompasses everything from printing to app development. LOVEVA is successful because of our great local partners and businesses who support the program.

“TowneBank is one of our largest supporters, cheerleading and investing in Retail Alliance’s development of the LOVEVA app, from the early stages through to today. We believe, as TowneBank does, in the economic well-being of our community. While LOVEVA is playful with its hearts and love language, we are serious about keeping dollars in Hampton Roads.”

Recently, TowneBank stepped up to sponsor updates to the LOVEVA app, including an area to highlight Buy Local Champions. On the Find A Business and Browse Reward sections of the app, TowneBank now appears as the inaugural Buy Local Champion with 10 rotating businesses underneath.

The current rotating businesses are the Top Ten business nominees for the LOVEVA of the Year Award 2019. The award was presented to Perfectly Natural Soap at Retail Alliance’s Retailer of the Year awards on May 30. This award was sponsored by another local supporter, All-News 102 radio station.

“The LOVEVA app has been a wonderful addition to the buy local movement since it came on the scene in 2014,” noted Allie Wittkamp, Director of Market Engagement at TowneBank and a member of the LOVEVA steering committee. “TowneBank’s continued support of the app and all of the participating businesses is a natural fit.”

Since 2018, local digital creative agency, TechArk Solutions, has been Retail Alliance’s tech partner for the LOVEVA app and website.

“While LOVEVA is busy working to support small businesses across Hampton Roads, TechArk is making the LOVEVA app, website and admin site run together smoothly. It is comforting to know we can focus on what we do best and let TechArk do what they do best!” said Jennings.

“The LOVEVA app is such an innovative and modern concept to seamlessly connect local businesses with customers. It has been a rewarding experience for TechArk’s team to work on this technology-enabled platform of LOVEVA. This app has been a huge success and we are excited about the future iterations and its continued impact,” noted Pratik Kothari, Founder & CEO of TechArk Solutions.

As the fifth anniversary of the app approaches, it is evident that collaborations and relationships among local businesses will continue to drive the future success of the LOVEVA program. In this new era of retail, these partnerships will only continue to strengthen the economic vitality of this region.

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About LOVEVA

The app was developed to help even the smallest Mom & Pop who are not able to afford such technology. It is a locator and loyalty rewards all in one. No need for several apps on your phone, you need just one, the app that loves you back!” www.bealocalloveva.com

About Retail Alliance

Retail Alliance is a non-profit trade association serving the interests of local retailers in Hampton Roads since 1903. The organization promotes and supports the healthy growth of retail businesses and trade through education, advocacy and member benefits. www.retailalliance.com

About TowneBank

As one of the top community banks in Virginia and North Carolina, TowneBank operates 41 banking offices serving Chesapeake, Chesterfield County, Glen Allen, Hampton, James City County, Mechanicsville, Newport News, Norfolk, Portsmouth, Richmond, Suffolk, Virginia Beach, Williamsburg, and York County in Virginia, along with Raleigh, Cary, Charlotte, Moyock, Grandy, Greenville, Camden County, Southern Shores, Corolla and Nags Head in North Carolina. Towne also offers a full range of financial services through its controlled divisions and subsidiaries that include Towne Investment Group, Towne Wealth Management, Towne Insurance Agency, Towne Benefits, TowneBank Mortgage, TowneBank Commercial Mortgage, Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Towne Realty, Towne 1031 Exchange, LLC, and Towne Vacations. Local decision-making is a hallmark of its hometown banking strategy that is delivered through the leadership of each group’s President and Board of Directors. With total assets of $11.57 billion as of March 31, 2019, TowneBank is one of the largest banks headquartered in Virginia. www.townebank.com

About TechArk Solutions

TechArk Solutions is an award-winning web design and software development agency located in Norfolk, Virginia. TechArk’s team leads with integrity, innovation and quality in all the projects. The team works hard every day to guide its diverse set of clients and provide excellent customer experience for their technology and marketing needs. www.GoTechArk.com

LOVEVA of the Year

The LOVEVA of the Year is…

PERFECTLY NATURAL SOAP

Congrats!

Their mission is to provide natural bath and body products that are nurturing to your skin and respectful of our environment. Their soaps, scrubs, bath salts and balms are all made by hand, full of the healing and therapeutic value their natural raw ingredients provide. Their products do not contain petrochemical products, synthetic dyes, sulfates, parabens, or phthalates. They use environmentally responsible packaging materials and processes which reduce our environmental impact. They have two locations to serve you in Williamsburg & Smithfield.
Follow them on social media to find out about all the beautiful products they create.

Many thanks to All News 102, your local news station for sponsoring the LOVEVA Award.

Be a local LOVEVA and vote for your favorite businesses on the LOVEVA app.

Be a local LOVEVA and vote for your favorite businesses that you use on the LOVEVA app. Voting can be done once per device between April 15th and May 6th. The winner will receive advertising from our generous sponsor ALL NEWS 102, your local radio station, as well as a trophy and banner at our Retailer of the Year Awards. So get voting to get your local faves some love.

LOVEVA Feature on WVEC February 2019

NORFOLK, Va. — “Shop local” campaigns are nothing new – small businesses have had to compete with the big retailers for decades, and here in Hampton Roads it’s no exception.

But a locally powered phone app is connecting consumers to small businesses better than ever before.

It’s called LOVEVA, pronounced love-vah, and while it’s been around a couple of years, it’s now gaining more users thanks to a pretty simple concept.

If you shop or eat a local store or restaurant connected to the app you earn a heart.

When you earn enough hearts, you get deals and discounts in return.

While it sounds like your typical rewards-based program, it’s not.

You can redeem those hearts at any local business in the app, regardless of where you earned the heart.

That includes places that aren’t even in the same city.

The app was created by the non-profit group Retail Alliance out of Norfolk, and hundreds of businesses all over the region are participating.

Instead of trying to compete against the big retailers one on one, small businesses have all banded together to create an entire network of incentivized local shopping.

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