Chamber cites successful start to Shop Local campaign

Published 5:03 pm Monday, September 9, 2013

A campaign encouraging Chilton County residents to spend their money at local businesses is already showing signs of success two months after its start.

The Chilton County Chamber of Commerce launched its six-month “Shop Local” campaign in July, just in time to create an extra push for buying locally during the back-to-school shopping period.

Prior to the campaign launch, Chamber representatives visited cities and towns in the county to disperse Shop Local signs, decals and banners throughout each community and at every business that agreed to participate.

“We had a very positive response from the merchants,” Chamber Executive Director Mike Robertson said Monday. “They seem to want the campaign materials to be displayed at their businesses.”

Robertson and an advisory team organized the Shop Local campaign earlier this year to remind people about the benefits of shopping locally.

Supporting Chilton’s merchants and keeping much-needed tax dollars in the county for community enhancement projects like public parks and other facilities are two reasons behind the campaign, Robertson said.

“We see the importance of those tax dollars and keeping them in Chilton County,” Robertson said. “Our goal is to make a difference. We sponsor this campaign because we believe it will make a difference in our community.”

Robertson said the chamber would continue providing Shop Local materials to businesses during the campaign, which will last until Dec. 31, through the holiday season.

Shop Local billboards are located in Thorsby, Jemison, Clanton and Maplesville.

“We were very close to getting most of these materials out in the month of July,” Robertson said. “Many of the businesses wanted not only the sign but the decal also, so we’ve had a double hit. We’ve got some really good coverage, we think.”

Robertson emphasized the chamber invited all businesses to take part in the Shop Local campaign, not just members of the chamber.

“We didn’t just put our materials and do our campaign at chamber members’ [businesses],” he said. “We put them in all stores who would allow us to do it. The taxes come from all the people through all the stores.”

In addition, the chamber had 60 T-shirts printed with the Shop Local logo on the back to give away as door prizes at chamber luncheons and to sell any left over at cost.

Robertson said about 15 T-shirts are available at the chamber office for $7 each.

“We’re just trying in one more fashion to get this message out to the community,” Robertson said.

MorLyn’s Fine Jewelry, Gifts and Antiques in Clanton is planning to have its own Shop Local T-shirts printed with the chamber’s logo on the back and MorLyn’s logo on the front.

The T-shirts could be available for purchase at the store as early as October.

MorLyn’s owner Ann Glasscock said she noticed an increase in her store’s sales during the back-to-school period this year compared to 2012 and attributed part of the increase to the Shop Local campaign.

“I actually had a lady that bought a very nice diamond ring, and she said that our reminders of shopping local had really made her start thinking and trying to shop local when she could,” Glasscock said. “I commend the chamber for launching the campaign. It has really helped us.”

Robertson said MorLyn’s and other local businesses have helped spread the word about the campaign through print advertisements and Facebook posts, adding another layer to the chamber’s methods of circulation.

“We have received much feedback from shoppers, which is really what we wanted,” Robertson said. “That was the goal.”

Robertson said he expects another sales spike in early November before the holiday season to be another beneficial period for local businesses.

At the end of the campaign in December, Robertson said he plans to ask merchants and municipalities if they noticed significant increases in sales and collection of taxes, respectively.

“I’m hopeful that when we ask that question toward the end of the year that they’ll say, ‘We really had a boost in our taxes,’” Robertson said. “Hopefully, we’ll get some positive feedback on that. We’re pleased so far with what we’ve been able to accomplish and what feedback we’ve received.”

Any business interested in having personalized Shop Local T-shirts printed should contact The Sports Shop at (205) 755-2630.

Those wanting Shop Local signs, decals or other materials should call the Chilton County Chamber of Commerce at (205) 755-2400.