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Independent We Stand Celebrates 10 Years of Small Business Advocacy

This year, national small business movement Independent We Stand (IWS) celebrates 10 years of supporting and advocating for small businesses. Since its beginning, the organization has focused on educating consumers on the vital economic role independent businesses play in communities and helping small businesses build their customer bases locally. 

The COVID-19 pandemic presented extra challenges, not only to small businesses, but also to the mission of IWS. Bill Brunelle, co-founder of IWS, says those first weeks of the shutdown were emotional and difficult for his team. 

“Like the rest of the country, we had no idea what was going on, we were like a deer in headlights,” he says. “But then we remembered we had this amazing platform and mission to help small businesses and focused our attention on what we could do to help.” 

Brunelle and his team got together and within 48 hours had created a package of marketing resources specifically geared to promote local shopping. The #smallbizstrong campaign provided resources like social media graphics and ready-made posts for any small business to use, even if they weren’t members of IWS. 

Looking ahead to 2021, Brunelle says that IWS is planning to revamp the #smallbizstrong campaign, as well as bring back its annual road trip and an expanded America’s Main Street contest

“It’s a great time to celebrate what we’ve done, but I think the work ahead has never been more important,” says Brunelle. “COVID-19 recovery will be a huge part of what we do this year and we will continue to focus on how we can help small businesses on Main Street recover, revamp and revitalize.” 

STIHL Inc. founded IWS in January 2011 and continues to sponsor the program along with organizations and companies like FCA US, Do it Best Corp., Nationwide Marketing Group, PPG and Tire Pros

About Lindsey Thompson

Lindsey joined the NHPA staff in 2021 as an associate editor for Hardware Retailing magazine. A native of Ohio, Lindsey earned a B.S. in journalism and minors in business and sociology from Ohio University. She loves spending time with her husband, two kids, two cats and one dog, as well as doing DIY projects around the house, going to concerts, boating and cheering on the Cleveland Indians.

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