Small video generates big viewing numbers for Milford to benefit businesses

MILFORD — A small video is generating big traffic online, and city officials say they hope it generates big results for local small businesses.

The video, titled Shop Big, Shop Small, Milford Has It All, features dozens of local business owners touting their products. The name is a play on the city’s unofficial slogan.

“In challenging times, Milford comes together,” Mayor Ben Blake says in the video’s opening scene. “We are a small city with a big heart.”

For the next 60 seconds, a succession of local business owners and city officials alternate brief two- or three-second comments using alternate big and small references, with narration from various city officials. The businesses featured are a blend of locally owned companies, from restaurants and gift shops to auto parts stores.

Some quotes from the video included “Big dogs” (Jake’s Diggity Dogs) and “Small memories, captured” (Milford Photo), “Big Nuts” (The Nutty Company) and “Small specialty parts” (Napa).

Blake said the the video, which generated more than 30,000 views and 400 shares on social media after it was first posted, was a way to thank the local business community for its efforts during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“They’re the ones that had to do all the physical gymnastics to comply with all the rules,” he said. “They’ve done so much. It’s good to support them in return.”

His only regret in shooting the video was that about 99 percent of the city’s businesses couldn’t be in it, he said.

“So you just try and get a good representation, and hope everyone realizes and hope everybody in the community sees the representation of Milford,” he said.

Justin Rosen, Blake’s chief of staff, agreed that limiting the participants was tough.

“We couldn’t get all 4,000 city businesses, or else the video probably would still be running a day after its release,” he said. “As it was, it was still two days of work scheduling everybody and recording their comments.”

Rosen said he and a small team of videographers approached about 50 local businesses and pitched the idea of the community business video. The results exceeded his expectations, he said.

“We explained the concept and what we had in mind for them, and everyone really had fun,” he said. “We tried to be mindful of their time, like if it was a restaurant we tried to visit during their off-hours.”

Some business owners modified their suggested lines and some changed their minds about whether they wanted to be filmed as part of the “small” or “big” side of the video, which required a few small changes to the plan. But the video’s most memorable images were not part of the plan at all, Rosen said.

“We had planned to just shoot them in their locations, but they were having fun showing off their trades,” Rosen said. “Then the idea of using props just came about organically. So that’s how a chef is preparing his special scallop dish at 10:30 in the morning, and it became a really cool part of the video.”

Rosen said it was gratifying to see so many people viewing and sharing the video, and hoped it was a sign of things to come as more people get vaccinated and the virus numbers decline.

“The one thing everyone asked was ‘How can I share it?’ or ‘How can I help people see it?’” he said. “It was really great work by our video crew to highlight these businesses. They’re the ones that adapted so well. They kept us fed through this whole pandemic.”