Doughnuts, cookies, mulled cider, door prizes; that’s what Nora Lovell of Peek In Pottery and four other Court Street shops in Pekin have collaborated forSmall Business Saturday, a national shopping holiday geared to promote local businesses. “We’re planning on serving biscuits and gravy, unless it’s warm outside,” Lovell said, “then it’s doughnuts.”
On the afternoon of Nov. 21, Lovell sorted through blue and white SBS canvas shopping bags, paper hats, stickers and other free marketing materials sent by American Express, which sponsors the event. SBS was first observed in Boston in 2010, and rapidly grew to a burgeoning nationwide grass-roots initiative.
The shop local effort has been embraced by regional businesses and the civic groups that support them. Some retailers and groups offer day-long promotions Saturday, others have campaigns that run well past SBS through the holiday season.
Whiskey City Architectural Salvage in Peoria is giving away a custom-made table. Embassy Suites in East Peoria is hosting a holiday craft and vendor show. More than 30 Washington businesses have challenged shoppers to a game of Washingtonopoly. The prize, $200 in Chamberbucks, will be handed out Saturday.
“We’ve been collecting different things for bags that will be given out on Small Business Saturday,” Washington Chamber of Commerce executive director Chevie Ruder said. “There are discount coupons for local businesses and promotional flyers for the Heartland Festival Orchestra, the historical society tours and more. We’re still collecting.”
The Peoria Chamber of Commerce will start its Small Business Saturday scavenger hunt Nov. 26. Ten area businesses will showcase Chamber-provided signs featuring a single word which, when combined, create a sentence. Entries are due Dec. 17 and gift card winners will be announced Jan 2.
Peoria Chamber has also collaborated with the City of Peoria, Peoria County and the Peoria Convention and Visitor’s Bureau on a social networking campaign. Shoppers need only snap a selfie while shopping locally anywhere in Peoria County between Nov. 24-27, post it to the “Live & Shop Peoria County” Facebook page and they will be entered to win a $100 in gift cards.
Peoria, East Peoria, Morton, Washington and Pekin Chambers, he said, are working in tandem through an SBS Central Illinois initiative to make the day a profitable one for retailers and an enjoyable experience for shoppers, on Small Business Saturday and through the shopping season. A Facebook page, “Small Business Saturday Central Illinois”, was created for this campaign.
“These people are your neighbors, your friends; the backbone of the economy,” East Peoria Chamber of Commerce Executive director Rick Swan said. “Some of them have been there generations as a family business and they support the local actives like the baseball, softball.”
Those businesses, Swan said, include small grocers, bakeries, restaurants, entertainers, and sundry other retailers whose services and products consumers seek during the holidays.
“Saturday is the national one day event but all of the chambers continually promote our smaller businesses,” Swan said. “They support the community and employ people. Instead of online shopping, you can go down to a local shop and buy the same thing, but you get to touch and see it, and get out and meet these business owners.”
— Chambers campaign to shop local and support ‘your neighbors’ —