When residents of Lake Wales, Fla., want to buy tickets to their local theater, they know where to go—and it’s surprisingly not where you might think.
Instead of stopping in at a local box office, they stop by Cliff’s True Value Hardware, where owner Larry Tonjes and his father, founder Cliff Tonjes, have sold tickets for the past several years.
“The local theater is run by volunteers; it can’t afford staff to work the box office,” Cliff says. “Over the years, it has tried a few local businesses for its box office. I’ve always been a supporter of that theater, and we’re open long hours, so we take care of anyone picking up tickets.”
There’s a small sign in the window advertising the store as the box office, but it isn’t necessary, Cliff says. “At this point, everybody knows. A lot of people thank us for taking care of this. They appreciate it.”
The employees help the theater in more ways than one, often upselling to customers who originally wanted tickets for just one show. “We can get them to buy season tickets instead,” Cliff says.
The ticket sales help the store, too: “We’re being altruistic, but it does help bring more traffic into the store as well,” he says. “I could tell stories of hundreds of dollars’ worth of sales where someone came in to pick up tickets and then started shopping around, saying ‘Oh, I didn’t know you had that!’”
Want to try something similar? Talk with other local businesses and see if you can team up. Many shoppers are interested in shopping local as often as possible; by partnering with other local businesses, you can all support each other and take advantage of the Shop Local movement.