Give a little, get a little

Published 5:17 pm Thursday, July 11, 2013

The charity bookstore is only the latest project the owners of Little Shoppes and Market Street Antiques have started for the sake of charity.

Business owners Rebecca Clark, Jayne Meisell and Pat Lewis sell candles, using the proceeds to help feed children in third-world countries. They donate gift baskets to local raffles and space to sell crafts made by clients of The Blind Center.

And don’t be surprised if you visit the shops and leave with a new pet. The businesses have been known to have pet-rescue volunteers bring in animals up for adoption.

Clark calls it a win-win. Customers have a new, inexpensive source for summer reads. Local charities gain a bit of support and exposure with the stores’ clientele.

The storeowners are winning, too. The efforts are also inexpensive ways to market their businesses and build brand recognition. Community opinion will also grow with each charitable effort.

The National Federation of Independent Business suggested a few strategies for businesses to give back. One suggestion was to spread the wealth. Offer to donate a small percentage of sales to charity. If you rotate the donations between different charities each month (like the charity bookstore does), the word is spread on each of their websites to supporters and volunteers.

During the holiday season, forgo client gifts and send donations in their names to charities. For the same money you were planning to spend, you can do goodwill and make a good impression on your clients.

The NFIB also suggested forming your own charity that is an extension of your business. If you sell sporting goods, form a charity that gives sporting goods to underprivileged youth. Do you run a restaurant? Offer cooking classes or training to unemployed people in need of career guidance or internships to students.

Generous business owners are the hearts and souls of this community and that kind of goodwill is what builds customer loyalty, the heart and soul of small business.