Danny Givens, the owner of Givens Books-Little Dickens, a children’s book and toy store in Lynchburg, Virginia, recently put his creativity to work on a series of 30-second television commercials promoting localism.
Givens told Bookselling This Week that he was approached by local news station WABC in December to create a 15-second commercial to run on their network for the month.
“The response to the commercial was so positive that when the station came back around in January, I ended up signing on for three more spots, in February, March, and April,” said Givens, who noted that he paid the network about $1,500 per month for each commercial to run a total of 50 times each. Since he wanted to produce three commercials over a three-month period rather than one commercial to run for three months, which is the station’s typical agreement, he was charged a little extra — around $300 total — for additional production costs.
February’s Valentine’s Day-themed commercial, currently available on the store’s YouTube page, features Givens in a vibrant red-and-white suit covered with hearts explaining to the audience that every 10 million dollars in online sales yields just 19 jobs, while shopping locally creates an average of 47 jobs. The third commercial, for March, featuring Givens dressed as a leprechaun complete with green suit, hat, and oversized ears, explains to viewers that for every $1 spent locally, 48 cents goes back into the community, whereas for every $1 spent online, nearly nothing goes back into the community.
While the commercial obviously highlights the name of the store, it’s the facts in the commercial that really seem to resonate with viewers, he said.
“At Givens Books, we try to present the buy local message in as many creative ways as we can through our advertising. I like to use facts because facts seem to stick with people,” said Givens. “I think the buy local message is really starting to gain momentum; it has been for a while, but the more I talk to other store owners and customers, the more I see that people are realizing what would really happen if people were to just shop online, what would happen to the tax base.”
“It’s not scare tactics,” he added. “It’s just facts. It’s strange that even some of the most well-informed citizens don’t recognize that how they are spending their money really shapes their communities.”
Around Christmastime, Givens Books also partnered with four other indie retailers to take out a full-page ad in the local newspaper promoting the buy local message. Shop local facts are also printed on the store’s receipt tapes and invoices, in brochures, and on posters around the store. But, Givens said, “doing a commercial allows [me] not only to show off the store but also present the bigger picture of the buy local message.”
Givens said he is passionate about localism as an issue because he knows how important independent businesses are to the vibrancy and longevity of a city.
“I’m tired of the way big corporations and online retailers like Amazon run their business, how impersonal they can be, how they can swallow up smaller businesses. I feel like I have a personal mission to try to take that on,” he said. “Our city of Lynchburg is revitalizing, and it is beautiful. More and more small businesses are popping up, and millennials are moving downtown and walking to stores. It’s exciting to see these flourishing businesses in our communities gain traction. Independent businesses add a special unique flavor to cities.”
Givens recently shared his finished commercials with fellow members of the American Specialty Toy Retailing Association (ASTRA) and that has prompted a discussion about using the model to help other ASTRA retailers create similar ads. “We’re going to be brainstorming sometime in the next few weeks,” he said.