We foresee working with Bad Adz, Shophero, and locally owned businesses impacted by the pandemic in a coordinated public relations campaign to help increase the gross sales for those businesses impacted. Our project will help make jobs more secure and enhance food security and education at the same time by leveraging our strengths with local food suppliers to reach a new level of prosperity by drawing on relationships with regional players (including producers and distributor networks), collective marketing savvy, and expertise in maximizing promotional incentives and co-branding opportunities. In this way our project outcome will provide a broader, macroeconomic approach that complements the region’s grassroots efforts to promote community health, local food, and food systems/networks. Uniting and connecting services will help ensure local markets will increase market exposure, and market stability.
The IRSSC project is a unique opportunity to effect systematic change by creating a new community conduit while nurturing the local businesses in professional growth. Gowell’s SNS has been vetted by a feasibility study and strong results after opening the store in 2016 and is now part of a much larger discussion around an emerging marketplace that will:
- Lead the local healthy-eating initiative to develop a community-based wellness program. It will play an important role in helping people lead healthier lives by taking aggressive steps to implement many of the actions recommended by the World Health Organization’s plan for the prevention and control of non-communicable diseases;
- Offer prominent retail exposure and create merchandising and co-branding opportunities for local producers and specialty food entrepreneurs; and
- Provide a valuable training ground for students and future merchants.
Our public relations campaign will expand new market opportunities by using the Gowell’s SNS and other IRSSC members stores as the focal points for local businesses to help sell to underserved families in support of increased consumption (and therefore sales) for local entrepreneurs and specialty food products. Our targeted audience will be encouraged to buy more locally produced products. We know many small local businesses and consumers lack the awareness and education of mainstream, conventional food businesses and systems and alternative possibilities that can help increase the demand of local foods while also helping them understand how to shop smart and healthy.
Our goal will be to expand public relations efforts including increasing child and adult nutrition knowledge and consumption (purchasing) of food related items that are locally produced and healthier, while also educating the next generation of food consumers through our joint collaborations and marketing efforts as our nation is experiencing an economic disaster like no other, due to the Coronavirus/Covid-19 pandemic.
We will produce marketing materials and make these resources available at a low cost through our social media marketing campaign, and facilitate collaboration with educators and school activities. Working with the community and children to understand can be the pre-cursor and pre-training that provides an educated skilled workforce in support of growing local foods as well. The initial project will build on the infrastructure and relationships between Hannaford-supplied stores and schools to begin reaching children (and their parents).
Our approach to partnering with local businesses, agricultural producers, and aggregators under a marketing program is yet to be named. This program will become a trusted and easily identifiable brand to consumers and will be offered as a prominent part of IRSSC services and marketing programs and will be expanded to non-competing retailers. Our goal is simple: to promote local food and value-added agricultural product brands, and to offer discounts on major prepared food product sectors to shoppers who purchase fresh, local food and value-added products.
Mark A. Sprackland
Independent Retailers Shared Services Cooperative