Philadelphia City Paper Makes Shopping Locally Easy with Trunk Show

The economy’s in the tank.

The holidays are coming.

Not such a good combination.

But many alt-weeklies are hoping to keep their readers from heading to the mega-mall or supercenter to find the absolute cheapest (in every sense of the word) gifts, and are instead asking readers to spend locally in an effort to pump much-needed dollars into local economies and to support America’s small businesses.

While more than 70 papers are asking their readers to pledge to spend $100 of their holiday shopping locally this year, in Philadelphia, one alt-weekly has taken it a step further. The City Paper is hosting a Trunk Show on the most overhyped of mall shopping days, the day after Thanksgiving, aka Black Friday. AAN News recently caught up with City Paper associate publisher Roxanne Cooper via email to find out more about the initiative.

Is this the first Trunk Show? If so, how’d the idea come about?

This is the first event of this kind that we’ve produced. We’ve been throwing the idea of doing a trunk show around for a few months. We’ve also been thinking of ways to connect our readers to a “buy local” campaign in a more tangible, concrete way than just having them pledge to spend $100 in a local store. The two ideas came together and formed a nice package.

City Paper is also participating in the Buy Local campaign spearheaded by the East Bay Express‘ Jody Colley, correct? If so, how are you weaving the Trunk Show into the general campaign?

[The Trunk Show is] part of the overall message of “buying local” that we do throughout the year … most notably with our annual “local food guide” which we publish each May in cooperation with the White Dog Foundation. But, to more accurately answer your question, we’re cross promoting both messages.

Since Philadelphia Weekly is also signed-up in the buy local program (and because there is already a very active “buy local” organization here), the trunk show is a way for us to encourage readers to buy local as part an event. It’s a point of differentiation from all the other “buy local” messages out there.

How many local vendors have signed up so far, and how many are you expecting?

It’s been about two and a half weeks since we came up with the idea. We’ve already completely sold out the space at the legendary TLA. We’re looking at 50+ vendors.

How is CP promoting the event? House ads, I assume, and I’ve seen Facebook outreach — any other marketing avenues?

We’re promoting the event with house ads online and in print, as well as ads that will be running on [University of Pennsylvania’s public radio station] WXPN on Wednesday-Friday of this week. We’re also promoting it on Facebook, Etsy and other social networking sites. On Black Friday, we’ll have street teamers positioned in strategic shopping locations to push more foot traffic to the TLA.

How does this kind of event fit into the mission of an alt-weekly?

We’re facilitating the process of connecting our readers with hyper-local small businesses, all under one roof, forming something of an anti-mall for the day.

It will also drive readers to South Street on Black Friday — which will be an additional boon to the locally-owned restaurants in that neighborhood.

What kind of cost outlay did City Paper have to make for this, if any?

Our cost outlay has been minimal — mostly table rental — and we charged $100 per booth. So, we’re doing something great for the small local businesses, our readers and we’re making a little money in the process.

Do folks have to pay anything to enter?

There’s no charge whatsoever to shop. And the bar will be open all day.

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