As a small town small business person, you have a natural advantage in creating local products. I have three examples of local products that will outsell the generic version in a given location.
Product Idea 1: Local pride clothing
Small towns are filled with clothes sporting the high school mascot. You can build a good small town business by taking that further. Create clothing that promotes local pride, and your place in the state or the region. What about towns without a school? How about tiny towns, or the small neighborhoods of larger cities?
Neighborhoodies is doing this in New York City, focusing on tiny neighborhoods. Here’s what business idea site Springwise has to say about it:
We like simple ideas that can instantly be turned into potentially global businesses: check out Brooklyn-based Neighborhoodies, which sells cool, über-local hooded sweatshirts emblazoned with the name of one’s very own, very narrowly defined neighborhood. Big cities have always been about neighborhoods or even specific streets, so a Murray Hill shirt says more than ‘I Love NY’!
They’ve also added funky mail bags to their portfolio (a no-brainer, just like their T-shirts, undies and kids’ wear). Even though Neighborhoodies is now selling to many customers outside their native US, this market is still open to local entrepreneurs around the globe: part of the charm of Neighborhoodies is the local aspect (hence the name ;-).
Another company making the most of this trend is Tura in Lokasie neighborhood, Windhoek, Namibia. Local women are creating local designs for Namibians and tourists alike.
“The only things you see tourists wearing are ‘Sand Lover’ T-shirts, but hardly any other uniquely Namibian labels and designs. And everybody else is just wearing Billabong, Roxy, Puma and whatever else. It is high time Namibians started wearing their own labels.”
Shigwedha welcomes the idea that more entrepreneurs use the collection in their own way.
“Our vision is to see a collection for each township in Namibia one day. The T-shirts are for everybody – Namibians and tourists.”
Product Idea 2: Local jewelry
What’s next in hoods across the country? Can you say keychains? Companies like Neighborhoodies and State of Mine should get your state of mind buzzing on how to capitalize.
Home is where the heart is, where ever you happen to be. Once again we see how awareness of a profitable and growing trend combined with a little imagination can lead to great success.
Product Idea 3: Local photos
As I’ve written before, if you have some tourism, students, or other part-time residents, local photos can be an especially big hit. You don’t have to be the world’s best photographer, either. Read a bit more about this concept at the Photopreneur site, Photography Marketing: Think Local, Shoot Local.
It might be counterintuitive. After all, any Joe with a camera can walk to the beach and snap away. But when the picture is mounted on a postcard or framed as a poster, it’s no longer a local shot. It’s a source of local pride.
Think about who you are targeting. Where do they shop? Then partner with those stores on some local photography items. Maybe you are in a place where a roadside photo stand would work!
What ideas do you have for local products and businesses? Do you have a local business along these lines? Leave a comment! Tell us about what works and what does not.
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Becky started Small Biz Survival in 2006 to share rural business and community building stories and ideas with other small town business people. She and her husband have a small cattle ranch and are lifelong entrepreneurs. Becky is an international speaker on small business and rural topics.