Independents Week (July 1st – July 7th) is an annual opportunity to recognize the many valuable contributions that local businesses make to our communities. So every year we challenge communities to enjoy their independence by supporting their Independents!

   Download and customize graphic templates from AMIBA.net

   Gather your planning committee and start discussion about events, partners, and delegating tasks

   Over-the-Street Banner and Downtown Flags: Talk to your local downtown association to ask how to get your material up and what size the flags and banner needs to be.  Also ask them about good sources for producing these items!

   Determine a good source for printing posters, fliers, banners, etc.

   Contact other peer groups in your state to inquire about combining efforts to secure an Independents Week proclamation.  Contact your governor’s office to determine their protocol.

   Send proclamation to municipal council

   Challenge your city council members and other notable locals to take the Indie Challenge in the public eye

   Select Independent’s Week events appropriate for your community.

   Encourage stores to participate with in-store events and promotions

   Create your own sound bite and press release for the media, collect local anecdotes

   Pitch the idea of on-site, live broadcasts to TV and radio stations.

   Begin promoting events via social media, i.e. Facebook, Twitter, etc.

   Provide store owners/managers with an information sheet and urge them to discuss the event in an employee meeting–or if you are part of an IBA, offer to send someone in from your IBA leadership to discuss it with them.

   Alert your state’s larger media via a press release two days prior to proclamation

   Suggest reporters follow takers of the Indie Challenge to see how they are progressing during the week and invite them to participate in activities you plan and suggest a press conference where the proclamation will be read

Much of the festive atmosphere for Independents Week already will be in place.  Your media outreach will be a big factor in getting your Independents Week efforts noticed.

Here are some activity ideas to consider, both for your IBA and for individual businesses:

1) The Indie Challenge

The Indie Challenge is to try fulfilling all of one’s needs at local independent businesses for the week.  You can use the media to your advantage by informing them via press release and interviews about your challenge–and who you’re challenging. Consider inviting local radio/TV/newspaper personalities,  city council members, civic organization leaders and local celebrities.

It’s a great opportunity to engage your local, county, state, and federal legislators not only in discussion, but participation. Use our button design, I’m Taking the Indie Challenge, and create and distribute buttons to challenge-takers. Be sure the media knows who is participating–certainly suggest checking in with participants throughout the week as a potential news story! Consider following up with participants to capture their thoughts on their experience–you may get some valuable quotes!

2) “Find Your Independents!” Game

This is a scavenger hunt for items and/or services offered by local indies. No purchase is necessary; players merely need to find the item noted on their game card, then get a stamp/sticker/signature from the participating business. Players provide their name and contact information for a prize drawing from participating businesses, which we suggest to culminate the game. We strongly suggest ensuring there are activities to engage children–including gift certificates for the drawing — as children heavily influence family spending!

Here are some suggested ways to do this, but feel free to devise your own:

  • A)  Your group can collect prizes or gift certificates from participating businesses, divvy them up and have the drawing come from you.  Your group would collect the game cards, perhaps dropped off at participating businesses.
  • B)  Individual stores can hold their own drawings — your group collects items or gift certificates in the denomination and number participating stores want to provide, then distribute a mixed variety of certificates or items back to the stores (of similar value as their submission — example: a store contributes 4 certificates at $25 each; store receives an equivalent dollar amount of a variety of certificates–they may request a single $100 certificate, or choose to include one of their own certificates or products for the drawing).  This scenario invites some friendly competition among participating businesses who can strategize the benefit of offering one large gift or several smaller ones for the drawing.

You can determine your own rules. Be sure to print a rules sheet to have available at each participating business, that store employees are educated on the game and know the prizes, that you provide a collection box for participating stores.

We’ve designed a game board for use that you can customize and print locally.  The brochure-style game card includes an educational message about the benefits to your community of local independent businesses, and the centerfold contains a grid with space to include items to find or a place for businesses to stamp or punch.  Your description of items or businesses can be straightforward or require a little more thought (e.g. which indies carry locally-sourced products?) Be sure to have fun — perhaps include items only found in your community, or include items you might need for an Independence Day party or a day at the beach.

Variation: one community conducted a scavenger hunt for give-away items from participating businesses—items such as matchbooks, guitar picks, bookmarks, etc., then asked players to bring them to a designated turn-in location (you certainly could allow folks to keep the items); they needed a minimum number of those items to gain a chance in a big prize drawing.

3) HolD Kick-off or IBA-sponsored Events

   Cash Mob a member business (s) using these cash mob tips and AMIBA’s money stamps to spread the pro-local message.

   A street dance with local musicians and local businesses providing food/beverage (permits are required for this, but you might want to do this in a warehouse, at a local theater, or at a business with a lot of space).  A fun twist is to make this a potluck event.

   Family picnic or pot luck meal with games and refreshments; invite your mayor, city council members, or local legislators

   Moonlight pool party at a public pool (be sure to have lifeguards on hand).  You might consider doing this on July 4 at a pool with a view of the fireworks.  Invite folks to bring inflatables to lay on for the viewing.  Hold a barbecue or potluck to go along with it — encourage participants to use locally-produced food products in their offerings.

   A “meet your food” event at a member grocery store (bring the farmers there) or a  tour of area farms that supply your locally owned grocery stores with produce, meats, dairy, etc.

   A Keep [Our City] Weird/Indie/Strange/Boring 5k fun run sponsored by your IBA and local businesses.

   A bicycle tour of the unique aspects of your community — if you have one or more locally-owned bike shops as members, they might be engaged to lead this.  This could be an alley tour, the “old” section of town, historic homes tour, a loop of the city, a critical mass ride, or a moonlight ride.  Stop afterward at a local ice cream shop for treats, or a local restaurant.  Perhaps have a picnic or sack lunches catered by one or more of your member restaurants.Encourage riders to decorate their bikes, and be sure to observe and proper safety rules for your ride.  Bike shops might provide a free bike evaluation/minor fix service to accompany the ride — or at any of your other events. You might encourage participants to ride their bicycles to other events with small rewards.

   A kick-off sale day at all member businesses.

   A sidewalk artists contest. Supply the sidewalk chalk and the judges.  Invite the media–you’re bound to get a front page picture or splash on television with the colorful results!  Provide prizes for different age/ability groups — coupons or goods from local businesses or local art supply store, restaurant gift certificates, etc.

   Arrange a community dance with live music.  Look for local folklore society, folk music, dance studio or music store contacts for information on availability in your community and how this might be arranged.

   Create a rhythm circle at one of your gatherings. Invite a locally-owned music store or class to supply some drums and percussion instruments and a drumming leader. It’s a great multi-age, multi-talent, interactive, community-building activity.

   An outdoor movie screening.  Project the film on the wall of a building.  Be creative in your film selection, and be sure it is family-friendly. Encourage folks to dress up in the spirit of the movie (for example, show “Jaws” and folks come dressed for swimming, bring rafts, beach towels and inner tubes to sit on).

   Engage local filmmakers, a film class, a community-access television station, or university class to film your events during the week documentary-style.  Create a movie from it and show the film at another community event, get it aired on community-access television, or collaborate with a local theater to present it as a community event–or present it as outdoor cinema as above–perhaps to culminate your week!  Be sure to include outtakes (in good taste and diplomatically, however).

   Film screening.  Hold it after stores close down one evening, perhaps in a restored local theater or on the side of a building. See our Recommended Resources web page for some potential documentaries like Independent America: Rising From Ruins.

   Enlist a few teenagers to lead games for kids while their parents shop at your community outdoor pedestrian mall or other commercial area (loaded with independent businesses) with an outdoor area. Local Girl Scout/other troops might be eager to help, as they can use this as a service project.

   Giving back. Coordinate a “10% day (or other percentage)” to encourage participating businesses to give that percentage from a specific day’s or week’s till to the local charity of their choice. Advertise this well, and use it as a wonderful news peg for interviews (if you do this, make it part of your press release). Create a poster design that can be adapted for each store announcing the recipient of their proceeds. You can leave the charitable choices to the participating businesses or pick a few organizations that will benefit and engage them in helping promote your entire event. If you choose to do this, you’ve got another number to flaunt: the total dollars going to local charities/community organizations for the day or week.

   Local musicians playing in-store

   Local artists/writers to talk about, demonstrate or read from their work

   Balloons to give away

   Provide food samples from local restaurants or ice cream treats

   Provide craft activities for kids that have to do with your business — we know of a great lumber/hardware store that pre-cuts pieces to make a tool box or a bird house from scrap lumber.  It’s a popular draw at community events!

   Sales on locally-produced items or items from independent manufacturers

   Cooperative events between businesses — like a progressive dinner deal (diners purchase a flat-rate pass or ticket, then can get it punched at participating restaurants for an appetizer, soup/salad, entrée, dessert.  Alcoholic beverages purchased separately.  Restaurants split proceeds based on what type of meals were redeemed there), coupons for coffee from a local café available at a local bagel shop–and vice versa.

   Keep Saint Petersburg Local created the St. Pete’s Greatest Local Lover contest — leading patron of local indies over a two week span receives title recognition and over $3,500 in prizes from member businesses.

   Locally-owned newspapers or websites could hold an essay contest with a topic pertaining to Independents/independence.  Winning essays appear in the paper.  Winners get a gift certificate to a locally-owned business.

   Radio stations can hold ticket or CD give-aways keyed on music with an “independent” theme.

Note: if you’re organizing local events, we suggest you place the emphasis on your community and craft your own posts.

   Independents Week (July 1-7) celebrates the spirit of entrepreneurism and community and encourage people to choose local small businesses for their shopping, dining and services.

   The @American Independent Business Alliance facilitates this event with many examples of local activities and huge menu of customizable web banners, posters, print ads and other graphics — all free to use and share! Check them out! http://bit.ly/10AzLBM

(Connected to an Indie Week quote image) Here’s one example of the many free graphics you can use or adapt to celebrate Independents Week — an annual event to promote the value of entrepreneurism and community-based businesses. See the full menu of posters, Facebook banners, and other graphics here: http://bit.ly/17FfP4W and share freely!

   Make sure to go check out the live music at [Indie Record Store name] in honor of Independents Week this [day of the week](make sure to link to event page here for more information)

   [Photo of independent business with indie week decorations] Name this business! Leave a comment with the correct answer and your name will be put in a drawing for a free $10 gift card!

   Barbeque-fixins, lemonade, fireworks… go local for all of your 4th of July needs… celebrate Independents Week and the local independent businesses that make our community special!

   Our favorite thing about Independents Week is the community engagement and, of course, the potato salad! What do you appreciate most? See what #IndieWeek is all about: http://bit.ly/10AzLBM

Sample Twitter Posts (please tag all with hashtag #IndieWeek)

   We are excited to be participating in #IndieWeek. Celebrate your Independents!  http://ow.ly/lHN8l Please spread the word.

   Whether you’re at home or away for #IndieWeek, please choose local & independent businesses! http://ow.ly/lHN8l

   Pro-Local organizations like ours across the nation are uniting to promote #IndieWeek. Please share the message! http://ow.ly/lHN8l

   Tweet your favorite thing about #IndieWeek and tag with #indieweekfave to get entered to win a free dinner at [local indie restaurant]

   #IndieWeek is upon us! Check out community events here [link to events]. Please RT

   With 90 million monthly active users, 100 registered users, 40 million photos per day, 8,500 likes and 1,000 comments per second… it’s clear that Instagram can be a great way to engage an online community. Encourage your community members and local businesses to share their Independents Week photos on Instagram with the #IndieWeek hashtag!