We thought we’d be sharing hot cocoa and coffee – or hot toddies and wassail, if that’s more your style. At a time when our community would normally be singing about “the most wonderful time of the year,” and holding Christmas gatherings like our annual Holiday Gala & Awards Celebration, it’s an understatement to say 2020 has had other plans.
If you’ve replaced “wonderful” with some other choice words, I promise, you are not alone.
If you asked small business owners in the past, “What keeps you up at night?” the answers you used to get had to do with regulations or the ability to retain quality employees. This year, the most common response is, “How am I going to survive this when everything I have is wrapped up in this business?”
I’m going to take a moment to tell you what keeps me up at night — the fact that the economic impact of the pandemic has hit our community’s small business people in significant ways. When I stare at the ceiling, wide awake at 3 a.m., this is what goes on in my head: the Preble County Chamber of Commerce exists to support and help grow our economy by supporting local businesses and providing them the information, resources, and connections they need. Unapologetically. Even in a pandemic; especially in a pandemic. If not the Chamber, then who?
We are charged with supporting local businesses. This responsibility means working with local partners like the Preble County Development Partnership to provide a prepared workforce so you have access to qualified employees. We hunt down and share resources that are designed to make you successful in your ventures. We create networking opportunities and facilitate connections. We work with the Preble County Convention & Visitors Bureau to promote tourism in Preble County. We help engage and grow new leaders through the Leadership Preble County program.
We often talk about how supporting locally-owned Preble County businesses is what keeps us unique and what keeps us “Preble County.” Here is the bitter pill: this year, especially, shopping local is what is going to keep our Preble County businesses ALIVE.
Want to know something else? We do not have to choose between safety and commerce.
Yes, shopping looks different this year, but Preble County is still open for business. You can shop Preble County safely, support your community, and make a significant difference in the lives of your friends and neighbors.
This isn’t about politics or your opinion on mask-wearing – this is about preserving what makes this community special before it’s too late.
According to Entrepreneur Magazine, “when a consumer buys local, significantly more of that money stays in the community. In fact, one study found that for every $100 spent at a local business, $68 remained in the community with only $43 of each $100 spent at a chain retailer.”
I’ll be the first to admit it, but we all shop chain retailers and dine at chain restaurants. Many of these businesses are chamber members, and they are a vital part of any community. However, let’s not forget the locals – the ones who support your kiddo’s baseball team or theater program, who volunteer their time and give to nearly every non-profit in this community.
Our small businesses need your support NOW. According to the small business support organization Independent We Stand, “If every family in the country shifted $10 a month to locally-owned, independent businesses instead of national chains, over $9.3 billion would be directly returned to local economies.”
I have a challenge for you: Shift $100 of your holiday budget this month to a locally owned, independent business. If you don’t have $100, spend $50. If you don’t have $50, spend $25.
If you don’t feel comfortable going inside, most stores and restaurants will walk products or gift cards out to your car if you’ll only ask.
This is the part of the story where we decide to become our own Prince Charming and rescue ourselves – together!
Share this challenge with friends and family. Let’s post about it on social media with the hashtags #100DollarChallenge and #ShopPreble. Let’s check-in to and tag our local businesses on social media and post pics of who you are supporting.
Together we can do this, and this time next year, no matter what, we will all be better for it.
Preble County Chamber of Commerce