Alexandria is one of three U.S. cities, alongside San Francisco and New York, selected for a “Shop Small” street banner program that promotes independent businesses. Banners encouraging residents and visitors to “Shop Small” and “Find Something Extraordinary” are being installed on street lamps today and this weekend along Alexandria’s two largest retail corridors, King Street in Old Town and Mount Vernon Avenue in Del Ray. The banners will be in place through the holiday shopping season.
The promotion is part of a national nonprofit campaign underwritten by American Express to support thriving downtowns and main streets by encouraging shoppers to support their hometown independent retailers and restaurants. Alexandria was selected by the program managers in San Francisco due to the city’s reputation for thriving independent retailers and a community that embodies the shop small movement. 80% of retailers along Alexandria’s King Street and Mount Vernon Avenue are independently or regionally owned.
Ninety-four percent of Americans believe shopping at small businesses is important, according to an annual survey conducted by The UPS Store. And this trend is on the rise. The survey found that the number of respondents who said they traveled out of their way to support a small business increased by 36% between 2013 and 2014.
Holiday shoppers will be rewarded for their “shop local” loyalty. Starting on Small Business Saturday, Nov. 29, shoppers may get a free Rebecca Minkoff designer “Shop Small” canvas tote bag when they bring two receipts from local Alexandria shops to the Alexandria Visitors Center, 221 King Street–one bag per customer while supplies last.
In Alexandria, the “Shop Small” promotion is a public-private initiative between the City of Alexandria and its economic development partners, Alexandria Convention & Visitors Association, Alexandria Economic Development Partnership, Chamber of Commerce, Del Ray Business Association, Old Town Boutique District, and the Small Business Development Center.