Every year the Christmas shopping season kicks off earlier and earlier. This year, the latest push is a tri-county, "shop local" campaign that kicks off September 27 in downtown Collingswood.
"$27 on the 27th" is the theme of the event, which invites shoppers to spend at least $27 at local businesses from 6 to 8 p.m., with "discounts and giveaways for participants," promises a press release from the borough.
“We’re asking that people shop local first for their needs and Collingswood provides a lot of what residents need within a mile or so of their homes," said Collingswood Mayor James Maley in the press release. "Buying local first means that your dollars go back to revitalize and support your town."
The event is highlighted by an hour-long party at The Pop Shop party room from 7 to 8 p.m. (RSVP on Facebook to secure your spot.) Those who show receipts totalling at least $27 are eligible to win $500 in Collingswood Cash—another way of keeping shopper's dollars local—and other door prizes.
'Keeping dollars in the community'
The event is part of Camden County’s ongoing Buy Local/Shop Local campaign, which posits that spending just $10 more per month in-county could bring an additional $35 million to the county annually; as much as $1.1 million of that could be spent in Collingswood.
“Small businesses are the driving force in development and employment,” said
Freeholder Director Louis Cappelli. “The more we can help them, the stronger we will be.”
Promotion for the initiative has come from staging events at local retail locations, such as a recent event at Lee Newman in Cherry Hill, where members handed out publications and material on the benefits of shopping locally.
“There’s an economic benefit to shopping locally and keeping dollars in the community,” says Sandi Kelly, director of Camden County's Department of Economic and Business Development.
Kelly says she hopes to further promotes this initiative by creating “Buy Camden County” discount cards. But for now, locals can use the Buy Camden County Facebook page to find promotions and discounts.
'Shop, dine, go local'
With dozens of large retail chains nearby, including two Walmarts—both within a five minute drive from each other—small businesses like those in downtown Woodbury need all the help they can get these days.
The Shop, Dine, Go Local campaign will span 14 weeks, in which Gloucester County residents can sign a pledge on the county’s website or on the campaign’s Facebook page to spend locally. Once signed up, residents can access coupons and specials from local businesses in Gloucester County. These offers will be available up to Saturday, Nov. 24.
On that date, Small Business Saturday, a national campaign sponsored by American Express, encourages shoppers to buy from small businesses as opposed to driving to the mall or a big-box store. It's the day after Black Friday.
After Nov. 24, the local businesses of Gloucester County will be given surveys which will help to evaluate the effectiveness of "Shop, Dine, Go Local."
Woodbury Mayor Harry Riskie said events like the Woodbury Fall Arts Fest (Sept. 29), are helping to drive shoppers into downtown Woodbury, and "Shop, Dine, Go Local" is another step in the right direction.
“The battle is to get them here,” Riskie said.
'Hand-in-hand with other initiatives'
Burlington County spokesman Ralph Shrom says he is currently working with county freeholders to create a similar initiative after recently learning about other “buy local” campaigns.
“However, we are certainly supportive of our local business and 'buy local' goes hand-in-hand with other initiatives in Burlington County,” says Shrom.
Shrom cites Burlington County’s newest project, the Business and Jobseekers website, which helps businesses find qualified employees and helps residents find jobs. It is currently the second-most-viewed page on Burlington County’s website since its launch two months ago.