The buy local movement has been essential to the success of independent retailers over the past decades, helping us square off against big box stores like Walmart and then take on Amazon and other online giants such. It is a concept that is embraced by farmers, environmentalists, makers, and all those who take pride in their communities.

Angela Schmook, vice president of Road Runners, and Kelly P. Bristol, vice president of business development at Just Got 2 Have It!, are launching the “Reps are Local Too” campaign next week to remind shopkeepers of the “significance of ordering from local representatives within the retail sector.”

Sales reps, and the manufacturers and agencies that employ them, have a long history of providing service to independent retailers. They present us with new products and promotions, help with problems, and provide information about what is selling best in our area.  Because they know our stores and our market, they represent “local” on the B2B side of our industry. 

Not all retailers realize that sales reps are paid either entirely, or at least partially, through commissions – and that when you place an order on a global marketplace site like Faire, they do not receive any credit. Some sales agencies and vendors pay full commission on orders placed through their online ordering platform – but it’s wise to ask your rep if this is the case. 

Why should you do this? Because, as Angela and Kelly point out, “sales reps go the extra mile to meet the needs of retailers and their local shoppers — learning customer preferences, introducing unique products, and truly listening to consumer needs. Sales reps are the often-overlooked lifeline of their communities, working hard to fill stores with new products and helping create local revenue so that every Main Street may thrive.”

As retailers, we have an important role to play in supporting the Reps are Local Too campaign. But our vendors could also do more to encourage retailers to order through the sale rep system. Why not provide special incentives available exclusively through your reps? We would welcome products to use as customer giveaways or donations to local charities.  Do you make sure your reps have information as current as what retailers can find online? Are you generous with catalogues and samples to enhance your reps’ sales calls? If you are selling through Faire as well as a sales agency (generally not a great idea), do you share information about new accounts with your reps so that they can call on the store?

Reps are Local Too will officially launch on June 4, in time for the summer gift shows, with about 25 sales agencies as well as Heart on Main Street and the trade marts participating. Angela adds that one way retailers can easily support their local reps ahead of market season is booking show appointments. “Reps want to be available to work with their retailers.  When they have appointments, they plan to make themselves available just for you and many times curate brands and products before your appointment, saving you time.” 

Retailers can join the movement by following the RALT social channels @repsarelocaltoo, and by sharing this information with their peers. If you want more information, please email [email protected].

Happy Retailing,

Carol “Orange” Schroeder