Chamber encourages local shopping
WATKINS GLEN--Sunset View Creamery in Odessa said when people shop small, it allows them to hire more employees, primarily high school and college kids during tourism season, helping them prepare for the workforce.
Graceful Arts Fiber Studio in Burdett said when people help the small business succeed, more money can be funneled back into the community through charitable donations to the food pantry and food bank.
In fact, 48 percent of each purchase at a local, independent business is recirculated locally, according to the Watkins Glen Chamber of Commerce.
More than 40 local businesses are participating in the chamber's Small Business Saturday promotion Nov. 26, said Brittany Gibson, tourism and marketing manager. They had 44 participating businesses last year, she said.
"We are aggressive, and we have to be. That's our job as a chamber of commerce -- to support our local businesses," she said. "A lot of our members look to us for that kind of leadership anyway, so we're really happy to take it on. It is a challenge that requires a lot of effort."
The chamber in recent years has been taking a two-prong approach to promoting support for small, locally owned businesses, starting with Small business Saturday, Gibson said. This year, it begins with folks downloading a Christmas Wish List from the chamber's website (www.watkinsglenchamber.com/smallbusinesssaturday), she said.
"They print it, and then they can receive a stamp by purchasing one of the items on that list or, frankly, any item from any participating business. The more stamps they have at the end of the day, the more chances they have to win," she said.
"By win, I mean they actually leave that wish list with the last business that they visit, even if it's just one. We then gather up all those forms from the businesses, put them into a hat and draw names," Gibson said. "We give away five really great raffle baskets as kind of a 'thank you' for the people that came out and shopped small."
The second prong of the program comes after Small Business Saturday: "The 25 Days of Shopping Small," modeled after "The 12 Days of Christmas," she said. All businesses that participate in Small Business Saturday will offer special incentives and promotions for people to come back and visit their stores again during the holiday season once, twice or multiple times to get deals, she said.
"We really try not to treat Small Business Saturday as a one-time thing. We say Small Business Saturday is every day of the year."
For more information, contact Membership Services Manager Meredith Williams at email@example.com or by calling 607-535-4300. More information can also be obtained on the chamber's Facebook page.