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Clipping coupons could soon become a thing of the past, according to the founder of Milwaukee Small Shops United.  

Black Friday may be bigger than ever this year – stores around the country are attempting to lure customers in early on Nov. 24 with home goods and tech deals galore – but a growing contingent of consumers are eschewing long lines at big boxes stores this season, opting instead to shop small, and local.

We sat down with Eric Tallmadge, the founder of Milwaukee’s Small Shops United, to hear his take on holiday shopping and learn more about the coupon-less coupon books his organization is selling. Buyers receive discounts at dozens of local stores, like Amilinda and Anodyne.


Small Shops United

Image courtesy of Small Shops United; packs designed by Melody Sorenson and Brad Horton

Why did you found Small Shops United?

I was discouraged to see independent shops closing one after another in my neighborhood, only to be replaced by national chains and international brands. I wanted to do something to help reverse that trend.

How many local businesses do you work with?

Approximately 80 local businesses participate.

Tell us about the holiday gift packs you’re preparing this year.

Small Shops Gift Packs avoid the hassle of coupons by allowing customers to cash in on offers using a single wallet-sized card, or just their phone number. And new this year we’ll be introducing a number of offers that are redeemed exclusively online using unique Small Shops promo codes.

How’s reception been so far?

We just surpassed 19,000 Small Shops United member accounts in the Milwaukee area, and we’re processing over 11,000 in-store transactions every month.

What’s new this year?

We’re offering a 2018 Restaurant Pack that includes 25+ new and popular local restaurants, a 2018 Family Pack that includes unique incentives from 14 amazing family-friendly businesses and attractions and our 2017/2018 MKE Sports Pack – which includes incredible offers from a number of Milwaukee’s professional sports teams. 

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Why do you think it’s important for people to support local businesses?

There are plenty of economic reasons that shouldn’t be overlooked; however, there’s nothing more important to me than the impact independent businesses have on the character and personality of a neighborhood. Local businesses are an extension of the people living in a particular community, and I think that’s something worth protecting.

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