by Bera Dunau Staff Writer
---- — The Cooperstown Chamber of Commerce is trying its best to get one message into peoples heads this holiday season: Shop local.
“We have some wonderful stores,” said Mary Beth Dow, a tourism aid for the Cooperstown Chamber of Commerce.
The chamber’s push this year is coordinated with Small Business Saturday, a national effort to get consumers to shop at local businesses on Nov. 30. It was started by American Express in 2010, and the company still directs and provides support for the campaign.
“American Express has made it much easier for communities to get on board,” said Patricia Szarpa, executive director of the Cooperstown Chamber of Commerce.
As part of their participation in this effort, the chamber is handing out Small Business Saturday doormats and tote bags for free at its office. It is also distributing hand outs to business owners that encourage them to go to shopsmall.com and take advantage of the resources available there. One of the handouts also suggests Facebook and Twitter statuses that businesses can utilize throughout the course of the campaign.
Dow owned her own business on Main Street for 20 years, and says that she has always tried to shop locally. She says that Cooperstown at large is supportive of the effort.
“There’s a community here and we all try to....support each other.”
Szarpa said that Small Business Saturday also offers the chamber an opportunity to highlight a campaign they are working on with the Otsego County Chamber of Commerce: Think Local First.
Think Local First was launched around Nov. 1, and members of the Cooperstown Chamber of Commerce and the Otsego County Chamber of Commerce marched together in the Oneonta Holiday Parade on Nov. 23 with the campaign’s logo.
“It’s still mostly in the planning stages,” said Szarpa, who said that the goal of the campaign was to get consumers to make an effort to shop locally year round.
“They have the purchasing power,” said Szarpa. “Even something as simple as $10 can make a difference.”
Szarpa said that the campaign planned on putting out print pieces, and that a website that would help consumers discover what was available at local businesses was in the works.
Szarpa also said that the campaign was a rare collaboration between the Cooperstown Chamber of Commerce and the Otsego County Chamber of Commerce.
“She’s lovely to work with,” said Szarpa, on working with the Barbara Ann Heegan, the Otsego County Chamber of Commerce’s executive director.
She also said that both chambers were reaching out to smaller chambers of commerce in Otsego County for the campaign, and that events would be held throughout the county in 2014.
“Keep your local businesses and services in mind throughout the year,” said Szarpa.