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Small business retail advice: how storytelling can reinforce the narrative of your local retail business

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For years we have been sharing stories on social media for our own shops. We started this to reflect on the diversity of shopper situations we engage with. The stories provided context for shopping by customers. Here is an example relating the greeting card purchases. It received over 200 lives in less than 24 hours:

Storytime. The twenty-something guy had been standing looking at cards for ten minutes. He seemed lost. “Hey, mate, you need a hand?” I said, without wanting to intrude. “Yeah”, he said with a sadness uncommon for a young guy looking for a card. “What are you looking for?”, I was careful in my approach. “My best mate’s dad died suddenly”, he paused. “He’s angry and wrecked” he paused again. “I, I want to tell him I’m here for him. I figured a card could be good,” he looked back at the range. “But, they’re too flowery.” He was right, the sympathy cards he was looking at were too flowery. After a while, we found a blank card with a dog on it, because his mate likes dogs. We worked out some words that got across what he wanted to say without being flowery.
Some days in retail we get to help in ways that will stay with us for years.

And then there is this one:

Storytime. Joe is 89 years old. He lives in a nursing home. When he moved there, he was limited as to what he could bring. The old shoebox with the collection of cards he’d received was the first thing he chose.
In that box are cards from his time as a local community Aussie rules coach. Parents and players had written cards over the years and Joe had kept them. “Each card is a memory”, he says with a smile, looking through his collection.
The oldest card Joe has is from 40 years ago from a player grateful for Joe’s help. Here it is so many years on, making Joe’s day.
Greeting cards hold the most wonderful memories.
And this one:
Storytime. Ethan’s school assignment asked that he write about his earliest memory. “That’s easy,” he said, “it was the first letter I ever got. It was a birthday card from grandma. I was 4 and she posted me a birthday card with a tiger on it and it came in the mail. That’s the first memory I have. I still have card, and the envelope. Mum got them framed for me.”
The card created in Ethan an interest in mail and letters more specifically. Now, 6 years on, every couple of weeks Ethan will write to a relative in the hope of receiving a response in the mail. And it all started with that birthday card, which remains his first memory.
Cards give us memories and stories long after they are received.
And this one:
Storytime. “Sorry, it’s just a card, no money for a gift this year.” That’s how Chris signed off the card to Jules, her friend of more than 20 years, since they were in high school together. Swapping birthday gifts with a card and a note were a tradition. Since they lived on opposite sides of the country, they’d usually include a note with the card and gift each year.
Jules wrote back: “your card and note mean the world to me, every year. While I may have, possibly but please don’t judge me, re-gifted the odd gift from you, I have kept every card, every single card from you. I have 23. They the story of us. They are a perfect gift. Thank you.”
The card we send today can provide heart-warming memories for many years to come.

Social media provides us an opportunity to share the narrative of our businesses. Local small business retailers are well placed to have wonderful stories they can share.

Our small business retail advice today is to take a break from shop here or shop local or look at this product and share something of yourself, share stories that speak to those who have shopped with you and yourselves.

Oh, and to answer an expected question for comment about using text and not images? Most social media posts use images. Going with text content could be more easily noticed. Certainly that is my experience in using posts like this over recent weeks.

By Mark

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