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The Holidays Are a Time for Family, Friends, Food, and – of Course – Shopping Locally
(Photo: Tracy Becker shows off the stocking the Clarion Chamber will be handing out on Saturday.)
And, while everyone knows that Friday is the so-called “Black Friday” with many shopping deals at big chain stores, fewer realize that Saturday is just as important, perhaps more so, locally.
See, Saturday, November 24, is Small Business Saturday, and that is a time where the community can come together and support local businesses owned and operated by those folks we live next to, our kids go to school with, who we go to church together with.
“Small Business Saturday is the Saturday after Thanksgiving,” Kathy Bailey Director of the Oil City Main Street Program explained. “It’s a way to recognize small businesses and drive traffic into the little guys.”
Tanya Woodel, Executive Director of the Brookville Area Chamber of Commerce believes supporting local businesses is supporting where we live.
“Whenever we are supporting local business, we aren’t lining someone’s pockets who we have never met,” Woodel said. “We are helping people in our community who we rub shoulders with every day. We are helping them put food on their table, get their kids’ school supplies. It’s always best if you can help someone you know as opposed to sending money to people you will never meet.”
Tracey Becker, the Executive Director of the Clarion Chamber of Business and Industry echoed those thoughts.
“We just encourage everyone to shop locally, not just Saturday, but all year long,” Becker said. “The brick and mortars of our community our your neighbors and friends. We really encourage people to shop local and shop small.”
Along those lines, a lot of area communities are holding special events over the weekend to encourage residents and visitors to spend time in their towns and shops.
“This is probably the seventh or eighth year we have been involved with a program from American Express,” Becker said. “They ask us for a list of businesses who would like to participate in a ‘Support Community, Shop Small’ campaign. They sent us a box with flyers, posters, signs businesses can put up in their store that say ‘Shop Small.’ Just different things to promote that day.”
In Clarion, Becker said the Clarion Chamber is encouraging people to come to downtown between 10:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. on Saturday.
“Starting at 10:00 a.m., we are going to be handing out stockings,” Becker said. “They are really nice, red-velvet stockings and businesses have given us items to go into the stockings. Then, if you go to seven additional businesses you will get an additional item.”
“We are also having an Open House at the chamber office where we will have cookies, fudge, and light snacks. You can also pick out a Christmas bulb that will have a number on it, and you get that percent off at the store in our office.”
In Oil City, the Main Street Program is doing a “passport” which encourages people to stop in downtown stores and restaurants.
“If you visit five or more locations and get your passport validated, you could win a shop-small prize package,” Bailey said. “How it works is you go into a participating store, and there will be a blue Christmas tree ornament in the business with a password. You just go up to the counter and say the password and ask for them to validate your passport. We hope you make a purchase, too.”
According to Bailey, the passports can be picked up at participating locations and can also be found on the Main Street website by clicking here. That will also list the participating stores.
“The Oil City Main Street Program has been participating for around five years,” Bailey said. “Our local merchants like the event. Small Business Saturday is a nationwide event, but word is really catching on. It gives our local businesses a chance to be part of the program. It really highlights our downtown merchants and encourages people to come in and see what we have. If you spend time in Oil City, you might go into a business you have never been in before. It creates awareness for local businesses.”
Franklin is also partnering with American Express to help promote Saturday.
“We are getting signs and as much welcome information as we can,” said Jodi Lewis, Director of the Franklin Area Chamber. “We are working hard on social media to promote it, as well.”
Lewis said one of the things being promoted in Franklin is getting the word out about how spending just $50.00 means so much to small businesses.
“So many business owners are also the employees,” Lewis said. “This is their livelihood, how they pay bills, how they put food on the table. We are all just encouraging everyone who is Christmas shopping that if they choose to spend $50.00 of their budget locally it would mean so much to these small businesses.”
Brookville’s big day is actually Friday when Light Up Brookville happens.
“That brings a lot of people to downtown,” Woodel said. “There are a lot of family-friendly activities starting at 5:00 p.m. and we have a parade at 7:00 p.m. There is also a movie at the drive-in. We hope the momentum gained Friday carries into Small Business Saturday. We have been promoting them together.”
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