‘Buy local’ gets chamber push

STEUBENVILLE — The Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce encourages local spending year-round, but the holidays are a time when its programs and events focus on it even more, officials have said.

The goal of the chamber is to be a valuable resource that helps all its members have as successful a holiday season as possible and to promote to all local residents the importance of local spending.

By raising awareness of the importance of spending money locally, the hope is for local residents to “look local first” when doing their Christmas shopping this year, according to Tricia Maple-Damewood, chamber president.

If each person increased his or her local spending by just 15 percent over last year, the impact would be significant, she added.

“It’s important that people remember those businesses who support them throughout the year when they head out to shop,” said Maple-Damewood. “It’s just not right to expect local businesses to give money, door prizes, food and other things throughout the year to help sports teams, charities, churches and personal fundraisers and then get online or head out of town when it’s time to make a purchase. Give a local business the opportunity to earn you as a customer by taking the time to stop in.”

Local business owners also are a part of the equation, she said, adding they can’t just expect area residents to support their business simply because it’s local.

“Do you have friendly, knowledgeable employees? Is your business clean and inviting? Do you have fully stocked shelves and products that are in demand? Are your hours convenient and accommodating to people who work and have busy schedules? Does a customer leave your business feeling as if they were important to you and your staff? These are the questions businesses have to be willing to address,” Maple-Damewood explained.

A growing body of research is proving something that many people already know: Small-scale, locally owned businesses create communities that are more prosperous, entrepreneurial, connected and generally better off across a wide range of metrics, she said. More money stays in the community, local jobs are created and sustained, the local community and economy are strengthened, quality of life is improved and customer service is enhanced.

“Buying locally just makes good sense, and the holidays are a great time to start making it a daily habit,” Maple-Damewood added.

The chamber has several programs in place to enhance the local shopping experience:

¯ Small Business Saturday: 9 a.m. to noon, Nov. 24. Five “Buy Local Stations” will be set up throughout the county at local businesses with chamber volunteers handing out fresh coffee along with shopping bags, coupons, stickers and T-shirts to promote local holiday shopping.

¯ Buy local receipt drawing: Shoppers can enter online at the chamber Website and log their receipts from purchases made at Jefferson County businesses between Nov. 1 and Dec. 24. For every $50 spent locally, shoppers receive one entry in a drawing to win $500 cash.

¯ Holiday open house: Chamber members and their employees will be able to enjoy an afternoon of food and good cheer from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Dec. 12 at Apollo Professional Cleaning and Restoration, 1626 Cadiz Road, Wintersville. M&M True Value Hardware is co-sponsor.

¯ Holiday gift list: A scrolling gift idea list from local member business featured on the chamber Website with a click-through to each business Website.

¯ “Buy Local” door signs, stickers and T-shirts: Chamber members and their employees are invited to display the “Eat, Drink & Buy Local” logo at their businesses.

¯ Steubenville Christmas Parade: Members of the chamber’s Ambassador Club will ride the “Shift Your Shopping” nutcracker float in the downtown Steubenville parade Dec. 8 carrying shopping bags from local stores and handing out coupons to those along the parade route.

¯ Jefferson County Holiday Give-Back Guide: Businesses and organizations can be listed in a directory that allows businesses, their employees, individuals and families to find out where they can help this holiday season.

Special sponsorship packages are available. Contact the chamber office at (740) 282-6226 for details.