‘Independent Retail’ Week Goes Local

Independent Retail Week is a weeklong, citywide shopping extravaganza that offers independent retailers the chance to reach thousands of consumers and celebrate the independent fashion scene. Now it’s going local, coming to Montclair, NJ.

So far held in New York, Philadelphia and Chicago, previous IRW’s have been highly regarded by both retailers and consumers, and 2010 marks the first year that IRW will come to a small town. “Montclair, NJ, was chosen because of its unique boutiques and stylish residents,” according to Lori Chiazzo of The Hip Event, a PR firm spreading the word about the week.

“So far, more than 70 local businesses have signed up for IRW, which kicked off Saturday, October 2,” Chiazzo says. “We’re hoping to spotlight Independent Retailers and give the local economy a boost,” she adds.

Arthur Mandel is President of Nolcha, a global fashion resource and the driving force behind IRW. “Independent Retail Week started in New York a few years back,” he says. “Its goal was to promote Independent Retail during a time when the recession was just beginning; no one was doing anything for the independent retailers,” he adds.

The idea was that since Nolcha worked in fashion, they’d start promoting stores and businesses that could use the help, “trying to get more ‘bodies’ into the store,” Mandel says. Nolcha CEO and Founder Kerry Bannigan agrees. “Nolcha is an initiative to provide independent stores increased brand awareness and drive sales via a citywide promotional campaign at no cost to the participants,” she says. And it looks like their efforts are paying off.

“Shoppers in our other cities have continually responded well and been very supportive,” Bannigan says. “The week provides shoppers with exclusive discounts, in-store events and an opportunity to connect directly with the retail owner.” Mandel adds that the whole idea is to boost sales and increase recognition of the stores, allowing retailers to reconnect back with their own customers.

So, is the effort paying off? “It varies per store and what event/promotion or involvement that they have,” Bannigan says. “We have worked with retailers for in-store events and they have made a 60% increase during that event due to the extended traffic and enticing product promotions and discounts. The long-term goal is to make new clientele aware of the retailers as well engage existing clientele,” she says.

–Rory J. Thompson