Merchants hope everyone shops locally
Published 9:15 am Friday, November 28, 2014
While shoppers are out looking for Black Friday deals, Elizabethton merchants hope they will set some money aside for a few one-of-a-kind gifts they can find only at smaller, locally owned stores.
To help ensure that America’s small businesses aren’t forgotten during the hectic holiday shopping season, American Express launched Small Business Saturday in 2010. Nestled between Black Friday and Cyber Monday, Small Business Saturday called attention to the benefits of shopping locally.
This Saturday in Elizabethton, the local Chamber of Commerce and Carter County Bank are holding events downtown they hope will encourage shoppers to spend more money at locally owned businesses — during the holidays and at other times of the year.
“As a locally owned and operated company, we understand the challenges and opportunities small businesses face,” Carter County Bank spokeswoman Rebecca White said. “Competing with large, regionally or nationally owned businesses can be daunting. That is why we are encouraging everyone to shop and dine locally when you can this holiday season. A small change in where you spend your money can make a big impact on our local economy.”
Money spent at locally owned shops and restaurants are more likely to stay in the community. Local businesses pay more local taxes, and local business owners are more likely to patronize other local businesses, White said. A local pharmacist, for instance, might hire a local accountant or a local attorney and shop in local stores.
“And we hope they bank locally,” White said.
Economists call this the “multiplier effect.” When you spend your money at local businesses, more of those dollars remain in your community. Nationally owned retailers pay a smaller percentage of local taxes, and they are more likely to employee services outside the area.
Carter County Bank and the Chamber of Commerce are planning a number of events this Saturday. Among them:
• Carter County Bank and Bank of Tennessee have arranged for live radio remote broadcasts in five cities: Elizabethton, Jonesborough, Kingsport, Bristol and Johnson City. WQUT will broadcast from downtown Elizabethton.
• The Chamber of Commerce has hidden redeemable “Chamber Cash” with select downtown merchants. Beginning at 11 a.m. Saturday, the Chamber will post clues about where shoppers can find the cash on its Facebook page. Chamber Cash, valued at $5 to $50, can be redeemed at participating locations listed on the coupons. Everyone who finds Chamber Cash is asked to take a photo at the business where they found it and post it on the Chamber Facebook page with the comment, “I FOUND IT!” Limit one find per person, and business owners and their family and employees, as well as Carter County Tomorrow staff and their families, are ineligible.
• Carter County Bank is offering free gift wrapping. The gift wrap truck will be parked next to the picket fence near the Veterans Memorial, White said.
• Santa will visit with children from 11 a.m. to noon, courtesy of Carter County Bank.
Businesses themselves are organizing their own giveaways and extras to lure shoppers. One of the more exciting promotions will be offered by Merle Norman Cosmetic Studio owners Michelle Taylor and Andrea Edmondson.
“We’re offering free makeovers, free steam facials and free samples to promote our business as well as to treat everyone else,” Taylor said.
And like Carter County Bank, Merle Norman will offer free gift wrapping, as it does every other day of the year, she said.
“I love our downtown,” Taylor said, adding that she’s particularly fond of the Christmas lights on the Covered Bridge. “We have everything a larger retail store could offer, but with a hometown atmosphere.”
Taylor said she and Edmondson expect to be busy this holiday season, just not so busy that they can’t give customers the kind of attention they deserve.
“We do get busy, but there’s not as much hustle and bustle,” she said. “We have the time to talk to customers and extra time to pamper them.”
White said she knows it is unrealistic to ask consumers to shop small, local establishments to the exclusion of major retailers like Walmart, but it’s important to spend locally when we can.
“Go ahead and shop at big box stores for things you can get only there,” she said, “but come downtown to find one-of-a-kind items.
“And when you’re finished shopping, don’t go home to cook. Visit one of Carter County’s many locally owned restaurants.”