By Jesse Wood
While Small Business Saturday takes place this weekend, the Town of Blowing Rock will hold its “shop local” day on Dec. 11.
Blowing Rock Chamber Executive Director Charles Hardin explained that organizers of the event were concerned that visitors in Blowing Rock over the busy Thanksgiving weekend would see the “shop local” signs and decide to spend their money back in their hometown.
Plus, Hardin noted that many of the locals “aren’t going to get anywhere near Blowing Rock” with the parade and traffic jams associated with the the holidays and Black Friday.
“This will give them a chance to have their town back,” Hardin said.
Hardin said that this event has occurred in the past, but it is particularly “jazzed up” this holiday season.
On Dec. 11, the merchants will open for extended hours until 7 or 8 p.m. Members of the Watauga Community Band will perform under the new gazebo or have mini concerts in the shops – depending on the weather. Refreshments, such as hot chocolate, hot cider and cookies, will be served to entice folks inside the merchants’ doors.
“That’s kind of our focus on shop local,” Hardin said.
While noting that the Blowing Rock Chamber also supports Small Business Saturday, Hardin mentioned that the “biggest problem facing retail” today is folks shopping online.
“If we could just get people to let go of their Amazon accounts,” Hardin said. “Amazon is our worst enemy. People won’t get out and look for it locally.”
Tracy Brown, executive director of the Blowing Rock Tourism Development Authority, noted that Blowing Rock, especially downtown Main Street, offers an experience that Amazon, for example, will never be able to match.
“Blowing Rock is made up of unique, boutique small businesses and we always enjoy having folks come up to experience those, and when folks do travel to Blowing Rock, they expect to see that and our stores never disappoint, especially in the holiday season,” Brown said.
Brown said that the town and merchants “really deck the halls and put out beautiful displays.”
“We are always excited to get behind and promote our small businesses,” Brown said. “They do offer an experience you can’t get at a big shopping mall or a big corporate store.”
Shop Local in Boone
“Shop Local Saturdays” – a month-long campaign during the holidays – begins in Boone on Thanksgiving weekend. The Boone Area Chamber of Commerce modeled the concept after Small Business Saturday, which was created by American Express.
While American Express has an agenda to promote its credit card, the Boone Area Chamber of Commerce is in the business of promoting the local businesses and encouraging patrons to shop local no matter what payment method, Boone Area Chamber President Dan Meyer said.
The Boone Area Chamber recently unveiled a new sticker that encompasses a broader spectrum than just shopping. The new sticker incorporates dining, giving and hiring locally.
Virginia Falck, downtown coordinator for the Town of Boone, said that the Jones House will be open on Friday, Nov. 27, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and on Small Business Saturday, Nov. 28, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. to “assist shoppers with information, provide restroom facilities and complementary refreshments.”
The Downtown Boone Development Association encouraged local businesses to put the new sticker in their storefronts and also noted the importance of shopping locally:
- When you purchase at locally owned businesses more money is kept in the community and purchasing local helps grow other businesses.
- Environmental impact is reduced.
- Small, local businesses are the largest employers nationally.
- Local business owners invest in the community.
As the Raleigh-based Greg Thompson, state director of the National Federation of Independent Businesses, wrote in an op-ed last week:
“Black Friday, of course, is when families to wake early, sit in traffic, compete with other drivers for decent parking spots, jostle with crowds and stand in line to buy things probably no one asked for or really wants.
“Small Business Saturday is the opposite of that. Small Business Saturday is when you shop at small, locally-owned businesses for things you simply can’t find at the mall, and instead of dealing with temporary workers who don’t know the merchandise, there’s a good chance you’ll be dealing directly with the owner who cares very much about making you happy so you’ll come back time and again throughout the year.”