Made in America

Courtesy of Creative Commons.

Courtesy of Creative Commons.

Happy Independence Day, Americans! We hope that all of you are enjoying a day spent with close friends and family, celebrating 237 years of deciding to be free. This is a holiday many small towns embrace, uniting in patriotic displays like parades and dazzling fireworks shows and we absolutely love that. However, we know not everyone is on holiday and so if you’re stuck at a computer today, we wanted to offer you something patriotic to celebrate – a random sample of some of the awesome made-in-America products represented on Love Small Town America.

Entrepreneurs are the engine of America, and the do-it-yourself attitude of small business owners reminds us of the same spirit that compelled the founding fathers and built a prosperous nation. We didn’t buy America from some cheap factory overseas – we built it. It took a lot of time, and a lot of sacrifice. So, we ask you, what’s more American than something made in America? Without further ado, we’d like to celebrate all great American businesses, and salute some of the businesses in our network  making goods in America!

Double D Mats – These mats are environmentally conscious and a friend of the rancher’s bottom line. Double A’s for Double D!

Formation Plastics – A state of the art business in Quinter is pushing the envelope!

Country Sudz – Luscious, luxury bath goodies that are a true cottage enterprise!

There are many other wonderful businesses out there making things in America. This Independence Day, we salute you!

We are always growing our network of small towns, organizations, and businesses. If you’re interested in joining Love Small Town America and getting an affordable home on our small town network, e-mail us to get started or learn more here

Double D Family Mat Shop Thrives in Small Town

Double D's Non Slip Mats

Weather-resistant, Non-slip Double D Mats™ can be used inside or outside to provide sure footing and a quiet, firm, but resilient surface for livestock. Each tire tread woven into the mat is secured on both ends and fastened with stainless steel bolts in two places. Source: http://www.ddfamilymats.net/products/

Love Small Town America is the online home for some of small town America’s best businesses. We’re giving them a chance to share with the world just what makes them so special. Please welcome this month’s featured business to the Love Small Town America blog: Double D Family Mat Shop, Inc.! 

This year, Double D Family Mat Shop celebrates 17 years in business with a brand new website and branding overhaul that show this time-tested family business is growing and thriving in the 21st century. After nearly twenty years in business, the company has learned a few secrets to success. Continue reading

Ten Tips to Rock a Facebook Page

We’ve been exploring social media and what it means for small businesses and community organizations over the past several weeks. After starting with why social media is important, we examined some of the top platforms for small businesses who want to make a strategic choice about where to devote their social media resources. Now, we’re delving into the how-tos and sharing some succinct steps to be a social media success, starting with the granddaddy of social media – Facebook.

1.) Create a page.

If you’re a business you need a page, not a group, and not a personal profile that you use for work. It’s free to create a page and you make it easy for fans and clients to find you, share your content, and engage. You also gain access to additional tools that can help make your Facebook page effective – tools like stats and the option to advertise.

2.) Grab your name.

Don’t let a rival snap up your name. Set up your page now and claim your rightful place on the internet.

3.) It’s all about curb appeal.

Facebook gives you a large cover photo spot in the header, a profile picture, and the option to add photo albums. You should be using all of these options to give visitors to your page a great look at what you have to offer. These can be simple – but take care to make sure that image quality is sufficient to meet Facebook’s standards. A pixelated, blurry image does you no favors. Likewise, remember that while your cover photo is only visible to fans who view your page, your profile picture is your calling card and will appear alongside any comments you share on other pages. 

4.) Keep it short and sweet.

“Your fans’ News Feeds contain a lot of information. And they have limited time to read it. Keep your posts short whenever possible: posts between 100 and 250 characters (less than 3 lines of text) see about 60% more likes, comments and shares than posts greater than 250 characters.” (Source)

5.) Engage with photos and videos.

People love pictures and videos. It’s that simple. Posts that contain images or videos generate significantly higher engagement (comments, clicks, etc.) than posts that are just words. Yes, they are more work to create. But there’s a reason that a single image is worth 1000 words.

6.) Make it regular.

This is one of the cardinal rules of internet engagement. Post regularly. Even if this means that you have to ignore Tip 5. Get online and make posting to your facebook page a habit. Start with once a week if it’s a struggle to find time and move up from there. 

7.) Make posts relevant.

Why should someone “like” your page and tune in to your updates? Give fans a reason to follow you. Every audience is different, but fans should get something out of your facebook page. Helpful information, special deals, early product launches, fun, entertainment. Figure out what’s meaningful to your fans (or the people who you want to be your fans) and do more of it.

8.) Engage.

Social media is a two-way street. That’s one of its greatest strengths. Facebook is not a platform for you to shout your marketing strategy to the masses. It can be — but it’s also a place to listen. To answer questions. To ask questions. To participate on other pages. There has to be a benefit to both parties – the business and the fan – for your page to grow. 

9.) Timing is of the essence.

Whether it’s creating timely content that coincides with trends, holidays, and events or simply being aware of when people are reading your posts, time is a huge factor in social media success. From which day of the week to post on to what time of day is best for a specific industry, stats abound to help you guide your strategy. Start with common sense, and add statistics as you grow into a social media pro. Scheduling programs can help you make the most of the clock.

10.) Do it well

Spelling. Grammar. Respect. Remember the lessons your mama taught you and be sure that what you’re putting out there on the internet is reflective of your company or group and of your own standards. It’s easy to feel like something is here today, gone tomorrow on the internet – but your content never dies and it’s harder than ever to track what or how someone perceives you and your organization, so don’t let silly mistakes or thoughtless remarks taint your online reputation.

What do you think? Are you ready to dive in to Facebook? Get started!

Featured Business: Harvest Market

Owner Dan Godek knows the community of Gove County comes together at Harvest Market.

Love Small Town America is the online home for some of small town America’s best businesses. We’re giving them a chance to share with the world just what makes them so special. Please welcome our very first featured business to the Love Small Town America blog: Harvest Market

Where can you find delicious BBQ meats, household essentials, and a dead rat all in one, convenient location? Residents of Grainfield, Kansas know that Harvest Market is the place to find all of these things – and more!

At Harvest Market, household essentials line the shelves alongside quirky surprises.

Grocery stores are often the heart of small towns, where citizens gather to share the latest news and pick up a loaf of bread. Grainfield finds this in Harvest Market – and a little extra.

Harvest Market has been in operation in Grainfield in some form or another since the late 1920s. Current owners Dan and Nicole Godek have updated the market with energy-efficient equipment and expanded product lines, keeping Harvest Market a viable part of the small town economy while respecting its historic tradition of serving the people of Gove County, KS.

The family-owned store has imbued Harvest Market with a lively spirit that draws in customers from all over the area. Slogans like, “Eggs, Tomatoes, Toilet Paper… Everything You Need to Decorate Your Favorite Neighbor’s House,” and “We Get Up in Your Grill,” are proof that grocery shopping doesn’t have to be a chore.

Shopping trips become lively excursions at Harvest Market with a little help from the local "wildlife".

Although Harvest Market does have eggs, tomatoes, and toilet paper (and produce, dairy, party trays, beauty products, beer, tobacco, and more), it’s their mouthwatering array of Harvest Market Brand BBQ meats that promises to make summertime special in Kansas. The sight of pulled pork, beef brisket, and BBQ beef fresh from the heartland have wrecked more than one carefully planned dinner menu, but we have a feeling no one is complaining.

Harvest Market brand BBQ draws customers from all around.

Owner Dan Godek draws inspiration from his own children (or maybe from his childlike zest for life!) and makes a shopping excursion to Harvest Market fun for all ages. A big gnome, little gnome, dead hand, and toy rat wander mysteriously about the store every day just waiting to be found. If searching for a toy rat doesn’t sound like your kind of fun, a carnival mirror is an oracle of truth that could provide the answer to whether you should place that candy bar or that bunch of bananas in your shopping cart.

Looking for a great deal?

Coupons rotate frequently at Harvest Market, so check back soon.

Harvest Market rotates coupons on their Love Small Town America site, so check back regularly for updated promotions. Through May 31, 2012, they are offering a bargain on sunflower seeds – perfect for enjoying outside as the weather warms up.

BIGS Sunflower Seeds are on special at Harvest Market this May.

What Does Harvest Market Love About Small Towns?

They’re quiet, peaceful, affordable, friendly, safe, vibrant, caring, and conservative.

What Does Harvest Market Like Best About Love Small Town America?

Harvest Market calls Love Small Town America their home on the web. But it’s more than just good business sense – it’s about good.

“The fact that Love Small Town America is doing good. It’s helping small towns. It’s helping small town businesses. It’s going to give back to its communities through scholarship and grant programs.”

Harvest Market will be giving back to the community themselves, as a sponsor of the 4th annual Cruise, Shoes, and BBQs fundraiser this Memorial Weekend. With food, beer, and fun, it’s a natural fit for Harvest Market.

Harvest Market's friendly grocery aisle gnome.

Do you shop at Harvest Market? Have you ever found the toy rat or tried Harvest Market BBQ? Let us know in the comments! 

Give Your Customers More of What they Want with More Frequent Updates

Main Street Dugout's February 2012 Coupon on Love Small Town America

Choosing is a bit of a Goldilock’s conundrum no matter what you are deciding between. If you hedge your bets, you  may end up with too little of what you need. Or, you may worry about diving into something that is “too big” for you. Love Small Town America offers three different update packages to fit your small business or organization: you can choose to have us update your page annually, monthly, or weekly. Even better, we give you the option to change your mind.

Main Street Dugout, a Grainfield institution we love, recently changed their update frequency from annual to monthly updates and we couldn’t be more excited (and that’s not just because we love to eat there). They are using their webpage on Love Small Town America to begin offering customers a coupon. So, more frequent updates make perfect sense for them- and for their customers.

We can’t wait to see what they do to keep all of us coming back to their webpage for more. Some information, like your address, only needs to be changed once in a while. But if your hours, promotions, merchandise, or other information changes more than once a year, monthly updates may be for you. Changing out photos will keep your page fresh and attract customers.

Updating your webpage more frequently to refresh content like pictures, information, and promotions, makes your webpage a destination visitors will return to again and again. If there were something simple you could do to help generate return business, wouldn’t you want to do it?

Offering a coupon on your Love Small Town America page is just one great idea. How will you make the most of your webpage?

Don’t have a webpage? Let us create one for you today. 

Gift Ideas that Go a Little Further

At this time of year, our thoughts are often on giving gifts, whether small or large. With every dollar counting more than ever, how can you stretch yours to go as far as possible while still taking care of the ones you love? Buy local. Buy small. Buy American. 

Tim Mitchell in Northwest Earth Institute’s Choices for Sustainable Living states, ‘A dollar spent at a locally owned store is usually spent 6 to 15 times before it leaves the community. From $1, you create $5 to $14 in value within that community. Conversely‘Spend $1 at a national chain store, and 80% leaves town immediately.’

 

Even if you’re only spending a single dollar – maybe to buy a bar of chocolate for a friend – if you buy it at your local grocery store, you are generating an economic ripple that can make that single dollar bill worth up to $15 dollars! Talk about some happy holidays!

This is exactly the kind of math that Love Small Town America wants to help everyone calculate. So, we rounded up a few of our businesses to share some creative gift ideas on our facebook and twitter pages that would not only make someone on your list smile – but that would make waves in your community’s economy. Here are all our ideas in one convenient location (Hint: feel free to print!)

Gift Idea #1: Gift certificates to Main Street Dugout in Grainfield
Don’t live in Grainfield? Buy a gift certificate to your local diner or pub. A $40 dinner could make up to $600 worth of difference in your community – and, your support can make a real difference to the owners.

Gift Idea #2: Custom vinyl decal from B’s Ultimate Finish in Grainfield
Many local print shops or automotive boutiques now offer custom vinyl decals. Decorate a car window or add some flair to a kid’s room, classroom, or even the ‘man-cave’.

Gift Idea #3: Brisket and pulled pork from Harvest Market 
Rural grocery stores need your support. Find a speciality item to gift or stick with high-quality basics that are always welcome (think European baking chocolate, bottled olives, and other delicacies). If you don’t have a grocery store nearby, try a restaurant or coffee shop for seasonal food gifts.

 

Gift Idea #4: Auto parts or car washing supplies from Jack’s
Even if cars aren’t *your* thing, there is a good chance you know someone who loves them or would appreciate a practical gift like an oil change or car wash – on you.

Gift Idea #5: A gift with real power: a gift certificate to Old 40 Depot to put a dent in paying for a new skid loader

We think these gifts would be great for just about anyone – especially those hard-to-shop-for men on our lists! – and will be long remembered, and appreciated. Whether you gather inspiration from this list or have something else in mind, remember that when your dollar stays in town, it grows.

Love Small Town America would like you to be our friend on facebook. Click here to see our page and click ‘like’ to join the conversation. We have big plans to offer our facebook friends exclusive giveaways, promotions, and contests. Plus, it’s just plain fun. Who can say no to that?! www.facebook.com/lovesmalltownamerica

Growing from Grainfield

 

A sampling of images from the Grainfield photo gallery on Love Small Town America

Love Small Town America is based in Grainfield, Kansas. It’s where CEO Nicole Godek grew up, and where she returned to find her roots. We thought it was only fitting that as we launch this blog as part of our expansion to bring Love Small Town America to towns across Kansas, that we pay homage to where it all started.

Grainfield is a lot like many other Midwestern towns, built on a solid base of agricultural interests. With a population of 289, it certainly fits the bill of a “small town”. Grainfield’s inhabitants are hard-working, friendly people who are more than residents; they’re a community. As Love Small Town America’s home base, it is only natural that Grainfield be one of the first communities to come online.

When Nicole returned to Grainfield after living in bigger cities, she knew she would find the small town advantages she sought. What she didn’t realize was how difficult it would be to find everything else. Her difficulty finding local resources she sought to remodel her new home online prompted Nicole to realize that if she couldn’t find small town resources on the web while she was living in the heart of a small town, there were probably 1.) a lot of other people out there who couldn’t find them either 2.) a lot of small businesses and small towns who weren’t connecting with customers, residents, etc. Nicole helped Grainfield make those connections and now Grainfield has a great online presence full of information about community events, local schools, businesses, and even job opportunities.

Seeing the community embrace Love Small Town America and helping our local business owners to find a way to have an affordable, professional web presence helped us to know, right from the beginning, that what we were doing would work; that communities need what we offer, that they support our mission to put small towns and businesses back on the map, and most importantly, that we are making a difference.

One of the Grainfield businesses that we helped create a custom website for is D&D Ranching. Until Love Small Town America came along, D&D Ranching didn’t even have a website. Now, they proudly share with the world their decades of experience in the cattle industry. Their business webpage under the Grainfield umbrella makes it easy for anyone looking for the services they offer to find them. (Anne adds: I just tried googling them – and sure enough, I wound up at the Love Small Town America page!)

D&D Ranching is a family owned, small feed yard offering the latest in technology, individual pens and rations, and bunk feeding.”

We’re proud of all the Grainfield businesses we’ve brought online, some joining Love Small Town America and linking to external webpages, and others coming online for the very first time. This town has supported us and given us a great place to call home. Some day, we think we’ll be calling Grainfield by another name: national headquarters of Love Small Town America.