Campaign reminds shoppers to spend where they live

When store owners pack up their holiday decorations next month, there’s one thing Karen Wilmot hopes they will leave up — a sign that reminds residents to shop local.

As director of Swain County’s Chamber of Commerce, Wilmot handed out 100 free signs to local businesses a week before Thanksgiving. In large red print, the signs say “Shop Local,” with “Make a difference in your community” underneath. Wilmot said it was the perfect time to encourage local shopping.

“With the holiday time upon us, everyone always thinks, ‘Let’s shop out of town, let’s go to the mall, let’s go somewhere and wait for that early bird 5 a.m. special,’” said Wilmot. “I thought ‘Why not roll it out when people are in the mood to shop?’”

But that doesn’t mean the local shops stop needing local customers after the holiday season ends.

“This isn’t just something that we want to stress during the holidays, but every day,” said Wilmot.

According to Wilmot, many business owners were pleased with the initiative, and some have reported that it has helped sales increase incrementally.

Wilmot said though there hasn’t been explosive growth in sales, the shop local campaign, like many other grassroots efforts, will slowly catch on.

The chamber has also launched the 3/50 project, which encourages all citizens to spend a total of $50 a month at three local businesses they couldn’t live without.

In Wilmot’s view, anyone who values the community should support its businesses. The difference between supporting a chain or a local business could come down to a mother or father losing a job, Wilmot added.

“One person shopping at one store could make that difference,” said Wilmot.

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