Shop Small, Shop Local, Start Today

Shop Small, Shop Local, Start Today

by Anne Dowling Caputo
November 2017

I’m delighted to see private business owners and local community leaders coming together to promote Shop Small®, Shop Local, a local/regional economic development campaign.

Do you bank locally? Do you eat at locally-owned restaurants? Do you think about patronizing a local store before heading to a big box store? How you spend your dollars directly effects the economy – both locally and regionally. It is directly related to job retention and job creation, along with building a healthy, vibrant community rich in services and amenities.

Cleveland Heights’ Coventry business district

Did you know that if every person in Cuyahoga County would shift just one hundred dollars of their spending to locally-owned business, it would add 126 million dollars to the local economy and create 874 new jobs?  The economic impact of that hundred dollars spent in the locally-owned stores is about 80% greater than if it was spent at a chain store.

Many people think that shopping local is too expensive; it really isn’t. Often you have to drive out of your way to get to a chain store when you could actually find the same item right in your own neighborhood. There’s a cost to that. 

For some items, you can choose between the chain-owned business and the locally-owned one.  For example, we all buy gas for our vehicles. The price at a corporate station might be five to ten cents cheaper than the locally-owned station across the street. That’s a difference of just $2.00 to fill a twenty-gallon tank. Isn’t the vibrancy of our local community worth that extra couple of dollars? 

Businesses traditionally spend down their advertising budgets in November to build hype around Black Friday and the holiday selling season. Are there hidden costs involved in scoping out the best price?  You bet there are. Your time and energy are valuable too. 

This year, I invite you to not get caught up in the hype. Let’s kick off a new mindset to shop, dine and donate locally, with Small Business Saturday® on November 25th, Cyber Monday on November 27th, and Giving Tuesday on November 28th.

Small Business Saturday is a wonderful American Express initiative. Shop at the local hardware store or grocery store. Eat at the locally-owned restaurant or diner. Give gift cards from a locally-owned spa, restaurant, or retailer. Consider a membership to one of Cleveland’s many museums or to the zoo. Give concert tickets or theatre tickets. Purchase a host/hostess gift from a local-producing winery, brewery, candy shop or bakery. There are many local artists and shops where one-of-a-kind gifts can be found. And don’t forget to patronize the many business-to-business concerns for supplies and services that support your business.

Especially consider shopping local on Cyber Monday, the big post-Thanksgiving online shopping campaign that promotes the convenience of internet shopping. Try Googling the item you’re looking for, plus “Cleveland” or “Ohio.”  For example, search for “Ohio artisan cheese;” or “chocolate in Cleveland.” One champion of small local business is celebratelocalohio.com, where you can shop by category from various small Ohio vendors. You many pay a bit more, but recirculating money locally stimulates the economy and flows to a stronger business environment, better schools and higher income growth overall.

On Giving Tuesday, contribute to the local food bank, homeless shelter, foundation, research facility, children’s home or one of so many other worthy local charities. The money given to local charities benefits not only those in need, but the local economy as well. “Charity begins at home”, so let’s bolster our community by first donating locally. 

Begin today to invest in our community and region – we will all end up richer for it!

Anne Dowling Caputo is the owner of J.A.C. Business Communications, Inc., a full service direct mail and commercial printing company expert in supporting businesses and non-profit organizations. Active in a number of community and small business organizations, Anne is a dedicated member of HRCC’s board of directors, and past chair and long-time sponsor of our annual Business Expo.

Natalie Bauman, The Digital Mosaic / SimplyTold® app, 2017 Expo Gold Sponsor

What do you like best about being in the business you’re in?
I love seeing the excitement in people’s eyes when they see how easy it is to tell their stories with my app, and how powerful it can be to do so.  I like being part of helping people create something out of nothing, and using today’s technology to bring something special to life for people.

What kinds of pressures do you face as a business person?
There’s a constant juggling of information to try and choose the right path as I proceed and grow. Starting a business, you get so much different advice from different mentors and organizations, but you really need to be true to your own understanding of your industry, your capabilities, and what you want your company to do. You have to trust your instincts – it’s YOUR business, and you are the one who has to learn how to discern good advice from bad, and not be afraid to make changes if you hit a wall.

Has any one or anything in particular influenced your choices?
I’m particularly fond of the idea that you do well when you do good. Kevin Goodman of BlueBridge Networks, one of my partner vendors, builds philanthropy into everything they do as a business, and it changes lives. I’m so pleased to be able to do this too, to use my business a tool to help the community.

How has HRCC helped you connect with clients?
A couple of my inaugural clients are HRCC members, some of whom I met through HRCC, and some of whom I met through referral by HRCC and HRCC member. I love that HRCC creates the kinds of opportunities to expand my network that go way beyond HRCC alone.

What turns you on about the Expo?
I have worn every Expo hat – as an Expo attendee, then as an exhibitor through Bad Girl Ventures, then as a planning team member and exhibitor on my own, now as a sponsor / exhibitor AND planning team member! I’ve met so many interesting people there, from fellow planning team members to the other exhibitors and people who come to network, every year I’ve come away with a new relationship that has helped my business grow in some way, whether a partner-vendor or new customer or professional service. Expo attracts a great energy to it that I love being a part of, AND I also walk out with new business all the time!

How is HRCC essential to your business?
There’s such a variety of opportunities that HRCC offers to stretch your leadership wings, to learn from others who are further along than you as entrepreneurs, and even to learn best practices from the way HRCC markets itself  – how HRCC as a business takes its values and applies them to the logistics of creating these opportunities for people. Being a part of HRCC feels great because you get to surround yourself with a lot of people who really have it going on.

That I’m involved with HRCC and putting myself forward through opportunities like Expo, also strengthens my relationships with my clients (and others that I already know). Networking other exhibitors, for example, you have the opportunity to interact with people on a professional level. It builds your credibility, especially when you’re an early stage company. It also amplifies the B2B conversation in general to have this many different kinds of resources coming together to support each other.

Steve Petti and Matt Barker, New Image Media, 2017 Expo Gold Sponsors

What do you like best about what you do?
The variety of work, all the interesting unusual places we get to film, spanning multiple types of business, we’re just all over the place! We also love sharing our expertise. We’re proud of our work and what we can do to help others achieve their visions.

What kinds of pressures do you face running the business?
We share some of the same pressures as many other businesses – keeping the pipeline of work full, and constantly having to adapt to changing trends, whether it’s technology or graphics styles. That said, we like keeping up with those changes! We’re tech geeks!  Love new cameras and gadgets, etc.  The clients inspire us, but so does the equipment.

What influenced you to go into this field?
Steve –  I’ve always wanted to be in an creative business. The visual stuff always attracted me, and how it could influence people.  After working in a very uncreative corporate environment, I wanted a change, and leapt at the chance to be in business for myself. That was 20 years ago and I’ve never regretted the move.

Matt — I’ve been lucky enough to always have worked in the field I studied for.  The field and New Image have both grown so much since I started; like Steve, I like the challenges.

What kinds of businesses would you like to connect with through HRCC?
We get excited about working with all different kinds of businesses. Ideal customers right now would be small businesses that needs to leverage digital marketing to compete well online. The public is curious, and video is a great way to satisfy that curiosity in a way that gets businesses attention for their expertise. We really see video working out there, especially for products that you know people will have a lot of questions about or need how-tos for – those are good candidates for video.

What do you like best about the HRCC Expo?
We love and appreciate the excitement level that HRCC creates, and the fun that everybody has. We look forward every year to reconnecting with people we don’t otherwise get to see, and meeting at Expo strengthens our connections. One can never expect an instant sale of course, but we do get both business and referral from participating.

Any hot networking tips to share?
Meet as many people as you can, but focus — and do a deeper dive with those you click with best. Learn as much as you can so you can best vet prospects for their good fit for you. And remember, even people who don’t buy from you can be a good referral source, if you understand each other well.

Paul Gallagher, Fastsigns Lyndhurst, 2017 Expo Gold Sponsor

What do you like best about the business you’re in?
The ability to interact with customers in a creative process that informs their brand, based on a combination of their ideas and what we can provide.  There is a lot of back and forth with customers as we finalize the final products. I like that every single situation is different, and we get to interact with businesses or all sizes. Coming from manufacturing, that is refreshing!

What kinds of pressures do you face in the daily operations?
TIME!  Trying to get done in a quick fashion, especially for weekend events that we support. We’re fortunate that we have a good crew and graphics department that are up to the challenge.

Has anything in particular influenced your business decision-making?
We gain a lot from the HRCC Business Breakfasts! You’re always getting different perspectives on how you view your own business. The opportunity for a small business person to even sit in those kinds of meetings are fantastic. If I can walk away with one new idea each time to add to my own cache, it’s really valuable.

Any one experience that turned you into a devoted HRCC member?
Really, it’s the vibrancy of the organization itself. You can feel the enthusiasm of the people who come because of it, who then act as magnets for others. HRCC continues to build — there are more and more people looking to participate, which speaks well of the organization.

Who you have connected with through HRCC and how have those relationship blossomed as a result?
A number of businesses through HRCC have given me opportunities to meet others beyond the membership, too.  An important part of networking is learning about members’ OTHER connections. Each one offers so many new opportunities. So get to know each other more deeply!

What other kinds of businesses would you like to connect with?
We’re looking at adding some larger companies to our client mix. And we’d like to get more involved with the marketing departments and not just purchasing departments. We love being brought into a company’s marketing process early, so we can be an integral part of what they’re structuring and provide better value to them as a result.

What do you like best about the HRCC Expo?
Having the opportunity to see a lot of my customers who are exhibiting / themselves, it’s a nice touch-base. And there’s such a large audience in attendance, we can do almost a year’s work in making new connections and reaffirming old ones.

Any hot networking tips to share?
Identify the decision-makers at the companies you’re interested in working with, and focus on those people with whom you have direct influence in order to get proper representation in those important conversation to get the work.

Elaine Manusakis, Every Angle Photography, 2017 Business Expo Gold Sponsor

What do you like best about the business you’re in?
Having the opportunities to make a difference. Being a professional photographer has many rewarding experiences.  Every Angle has been with our clients through it all…weddings, babies, family holidays, graduations…you name it and we have been there to memorialize the day. When we capture such intimate and special moments, then deliver their joyous memories to relive, we know we are making a difference.

What kinds of pressures do you face as a business person?
One of the challenges of running a full-service photography studio is working within the parameters of things outside of our control, like the weather. I’ve learned that when working with an immovable date, such as a wedding, it is crucial to be forward thinking and have an alternate plan for capturing the wedding if the weather takes a drastic change on their big day. Our experience has given us the skills and prepared us with solutions so our clients may relax and enjoy their time in front of the camera.

Like all business owners, I wear so many different hats, that I sometimes struggle with that work/life balance, and with maintaining focus in a world where there’s so much coming at you. I’m also pressured to try all the new tools of the trade while working to master what I’m already working with. I find stepping away and just breathing, then coming back and making a list of my priorities, is what works to keep me balanced. I don’t beat myself up about things.

Has anyone or anything in particular influenced your choices?
I once had an older colleague, an amazing outside sales person, who told me, “any time a client has a problem, you may not have a solution, but the thing to do is drop everything and go be face to face with them and LISTEN.”  It’s the most important piece of advice in life and in work I’ve ever gotten.  Drawing on my own twenty years of sales experience, I have found listening to be the key element in client satisfaction. At Every Angle, we schedule time to listen to and get to know each of our clients. We allow them to share their vision and desires to ensure that we deliver a service and product that not only meets, but exceeds their expectations.

What kinds of businesses would you like to connect with through HRCC that can help you succeed?
Through my partnership with the chamber, I am looking to collaborate with HR and marketing teams to assist companies of all sizes with professional headshots to be utilized on company websites,  as well as company marketing and branding material. I am also looking forward to meeting other professionals while networking and building mentoring relationships that will help us develop our professional and personal lives.

Every Angle Photography is a 2017  Expo Gold Sponsor. For more information about participating in the 2017 HRCC Business Expo on May 4, please visit hrcc.org/expo.

Photo: 

Bob Rosenbaum, Heights Observer, 2017 Expo Silver Sponsor

What do you like best about the business you’re in?

The Observer is not an ordinary newspaper. It’s literally written by the community for the community; every word we publish has been submitted by a member of the community, on a volunteer basis, with his or her name attached. The desire residents have to continually make things better comes through, and readers respond to that.

This is our 10th anniversary and we feel like things ARE better, including increased accountability and transparency in Cleveland Heights and University Heights city government and school board operations. We love playing an indirect role in this improvement by giving people a better sense of what’s going on and helping to increase the citizenship IQ of residents. Our mission includes increasing citizen engagement and participation, and also to put the spotlight on the community of independent businesses that make our area unique. Each of them has invested wholly in serving the people who live in Cleveland Heights and University Heights. It’s remarkable to me, and part of what makes this community special.

What kinds of pressures do you face as a business person?

The Heights Observer is published by Future Heights, a 501(c)3 dedicated to maintaining and improving the quality of life in these two communities. Because we’re volunteer-based and don’t have a staff of reporters, there are some challenges covering stories we know are important. We publish what we get. We’re always looking for a broad spectrum of ideas and thoughts, and for people to understand that we’re a product of what people want to discuss – and not a perfect representation of everything that’s going on.

And we can never sit back and relax with respect to sales. We don’t publish to make a profit, but we sell ads to sustain publication — so we’re always talking to businesses about advertising to reach members of this community while supporting the work of FutureHeights. So far we’ve had year-over-year growth every year. That can’t go on forever, but we feel fortunate that the publication is self-sustaining and contributes a little to other FutureHeights programming.

Has anyone or anything in particular influenced your choices?
Every day I’m out in the community and someone says, ”I love the paper; thanks for what you do”.  We create avenues of connection and foster a sense of pride in the community.  I’m grateful to be able to let the community speak, especially given these communities have a fair number of detractors.

What turns you on about the Expo and about the HRCC member community of humans?
The community focus – our sensibilities match. HRCC members are the kinds of people who would value a paper like ours. Not everyone wants to advertise or reach exclusively CH-UH readers, but everyone at HRCC is LIKE our advertisers. They share the same kinds of values – to create business that’s good for the community as well as the owner. The energy of the Expo is fantastic, and we’re eager to participate each year.

How is HRCC essential to your business?
Participating in the Expo helps Observer to be known outside the boundaries of our own two communities, to be known to a larger number of businesses and respected by those businesses. I consistently get calls from HRCC members who want to learn about the Observer. They are interested and aware even if they don’t advertise, and we’re glad to know them.

Heights Observer is a 2017 Expo Silver Sponsor. Publisher Bob Rosenbaum is a proud Cleveland Heights resident, and owner of The MarketFarm, providing content strategy, content development, and community-based marketing for smaller organizations. For more information about participating in the 2017 HRCC Business Expo on May 4, please visit hrcc.org/expo.

Photo credit: Joe Pollack, Pollack Studios

HRCC takes home 4th Connectors Choice Award

Look at these proud faces!

Here’s HRCC Board member Lee Ann O’Brien, Expo team members Nathan Wright and Terry Killeen, and Interim Executive Director Karen Schaefer, posing at last night’s 10th Annual Connectors Choice Awards ceremony, with the beautifully designed award.

This is our third win for our exceptional business-to-business Expo, and our fourth overall. Board member Jennifer Corso and Expo team member Maureen O’Hanlon were also on hand to accept the award with the group above. It was so exciting to have such a wonderful group of members be able to participate in such an thrilling moment for HRCC. And we couldn’t have done it without 2016’s other Expo team members –Anne Caputo, Jackie Schaeffer, Halle Barnett, Angie Pohlman, Natalie Bauman, Jay Fernandez, Stuart Marks, LeeAnn Murphy, Liz Palchik, Penny Parker, Greg Pohlman, Joe Pollack, and Maria and Michael Solomon. Kudos and thank you again!

Join us and see what all the fuss is about!

Exhibitor Registration Open for HRCC’s 2017 Business Expo

23nd Annual Event Continues to Innovate, Expand Opportunities

HRCC Expo logo 2017SOUTH EUCLID, OHIO – Jan. 25, 2017 – Exhibitor registration is open for the Heights-Hillcrest Regional Chamber of Commerce (HRCC) 2017 Business Expo, to be held Thu., May 4, 3-7 p.m. at 700 BETA Banquet & Conference Center in Mayfield Village. In addition to the high energy B2B networking event, perks for exhibitors include significant promotional opportunities and a special breakfast event to coach participants to prepare, network, and follow up effectively, to be held  on April 20. Sponsorships are also still available. Exhibitor registration and sponsorship information available at hrcc.org/expo or 216-397-7322.

2017 marks HRCC’s 23rd annual Business Expo. One of the pioneers responsible for demonstrating the success of the business trade show model of networking in Northeast Ohio, HRCC attracts 100 top-notch exhibitors and more than 700 attendees annually to this award-winning regional event, where every sector of the business community is represented. In concert with its uplifting culture, HRCC successfully fashions the Business Expo to provide a networking atmosphere unparalleled in its dynamism.

Special features of the event including complimentary business portraits, samples from several local restaurants, and dozens of services essential to start-up businesses.

Early bird rates (before 3/15/17) are $240 for a 6′ table for HRCC members, $320/table for non-members. 10’ x 6” spaces for free-standing exhibits are available for $395 for HRCC members, $525 for non-members. Exhibit space is selling fast.

For more information visit hrcc.org/expo. For more information about HRCC, Northeast Ohio’s premier chamber of commerce, please call (216) 397-7322 or visit www.hrcc.org.

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Jay Fernandez, 10,000 Small Businesses

What do you love best about what you do?

Working with small companies with whom we can make an impact! National studies show that key metrics like revenue growth and employment growth are twice as good for companies who have gone through our program compared to similar companies who haven’t. We’re helping our owner-scholars make changes across their businesses that really help them grow.

What do you like best about being a member of HRCC?
I go to a lot of different chamber events – HRCC’s are a lot of fun AND very well attended. People are intentionally engaged here, and it makes them want to grow. I love doing outreach with and for HRCC because the energy level and engagement are higher than at other chambers.

Any words of advice that you’d like to share with other business people?
You really have to know where you’re going to plan to get there. Have a goal in mind. That’s what we do at the 10,000 Small Businesses program – identifying the growth opportunity and build a plan to get there. Without specific goals, you’re nowhere; that’s a good life lesson as well as business lesson.

Photo: Jay enjoys himself at an HRCC Summer after-hours mixer