The ever-growing popularity of Black Friday has shined much of the holiday shopping spotlight on big department stores in metropolitan areas. Despite this trend, some smaller cities — Chillicothe included — are doing all they can to keep consumers, and their money, here at home.
In 2011, the Chillicothe Area Chamber of Commerce created Black and Red Friday. The event, designed to promote shopping at local businesses within Chillicothe, is held annually the Friday before Thanksgiving. This year’s Black and Red Friday event was held Nov. 22.
“We had around 25 businesses that participated,” said Lindy Chapman, executive director of the Chillicothe Area Chamber of Commerce. “Some businesses had early-morning door busters and kept their doors open later. I think they saw results with that.”
Each Thursday, many businesses in the community extend their hours up to or past 7 p.m. for the weekly Alive After Five program through Mainstreet Chillicothe. Micah Landes, executive director of Mainstreet Chillicothe, said many other events are held in conjunction with Alive After Five in hopes of attracting more customers. Most recently, Mainstreet hosted a wine tasting at several businesses in the downtown area.
“It was very successful,” Landes said. “That was just to get people in the door. Everybody really seemed to enjoy that, and we hope to do another one next spring.”
Events such as Chautauqua in the Park, the Sliced Bread Jam Bluegrass Festival and various parades, which are not specifically designed to promote local shopping, have still helped spark business within the community.
“We try to bring lots of people in the community,” Chapman said. “There’s a business that always says Chautauqua weekend is always their best day. That’s a downtown business. They’re not out at the park, but it’s just having those visitors in town that makes the difference.”
An energetic group of youngsters helped promote the “shop local” campaign last night (Wednesday) during the Kids Christmas event in downtown Chillicothe. Hosted by Mainstreet Chillicothe, the event featured affordable gifts children could buy for their loved ones.
“We had eight merchants set up a table,” Landes explained. “Our elves, who were members of the FBLA, helped the kids go around and shop for their moms, dads, brothers and sisters. All the items were $15 or less, so they were affordable for the kids. We had a sorority help wrap them, and the kids made Christmas cards while waiting for those gifts to be wrapped.”
Mainstreet Chillicothe’s next local shopping event will be held at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 12. Christmas on the Square, which coincides with the weekly Alive After Five campaign, will feature a unique ‘snowball drop’ for kids and adults.
Page 2 of 2 - “We will have ping pong balls that are labeled with different deals from local stores,” Landes said. “Some may be a percentage off, some might be a free gift. We’ll drop those all over the plaza. People can pick those up and redeem them. We’ll also have a children’s drop of toys and candy.”
According to One Local Family, a website dedicated to local shopping, $73 of every $100 spent at locally-owned businesses remains in the local economy. Statistics like that prompted Chillicothe resident Natalie Bone to create the ‘SHOP Chillicothe This Christmas’ Facebook page. Bone said the page was designed to promote local businesses in the Chillicothe area.
“It was something I just did on a whim,” Bone said. “It’s mainly just to build awareness. Some people just don’t think about it.”
Bone said it was not uncommon for her to travel to the city and complete most, if not all, of her holiday shopping outside her local community. Once she became involved in small business herself, she realized the benefits of keeping her money in the local economy. Bone said she has challenged herself to do 100 percent of her holiday shopping in Chillicothe this year.
“At first I was kind of nervous about it. I didn’t know if I could do it,” Bone said. “Since I’ve started, I’ve realized this is more fun. I’ve found much more meaningful gifts, and things that had more sentimental value. I also think there’s this misconception that if you shop out-of-town you’re going to save money. So far, with the shopping I’ve done, I’ve found great gifts and spent less than half of what I spent last year.”
Bone’s ‘SHOP Chillicothe This Christmas’ Facebook page chronicles her challenge as she shops 100 percent local this holiday season. The page also features special deals and other information about local businesses. The page can be found at http://on.fb.me/1eZsDEd.
C-T Reporter Austin Buckner may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.