Kristen Redmon was busy this week staking signs around the downtown Gainesville square encouraging people to buy local this holiday sales season.
It’s an initiative that has broadened in recent years as Main Street Gainesville, the city’s marketing arm for downtown that Redmon manages, looks to unite local businesses and entice customers to treat Black Friday and Small Business Saturday as an experience that includes shopping, dining and family time.
“We’re all about economic development downtown,” Redmon said. “And what we’re doing this year is a little bit different than what we’ve ever done before.”
Main Street is offering a coupon book for $5 that offers deals at shops and restaurants on the square.
For example, Upsy Daisy, an inspirational gift shop whose motto is “shop for the soul,” is offering 30 percent off fall items and 20 percent off one Christmas item.
It’s an incentive with a “little special touch to it,” said owner Dawn Parks.
“If people are looking for deals, which we all are, we want to be able to give that to our customers,” she added.
The buy-local campaign has united downtown businesses, who are encouraging patrons to make an experience of the shopping season.
“And when they come to see us, we hope they’ll shop at all the other local shops,” Parks said. “We can feed off of one another.”
Naomi Gnome, manager at Atlas Pizza on the square, said the venerable restaurant has never advertised or offered specials because the place is always busy and the prices reasonable.
But, Gnome said, “We want to reward the people that are here.”
The restaurant is offering $2 off any order over $10, and $5 off any order over $20, with the purchase of the coupon book.
“If we can offer people a little something, we’re happy to do that,” Gnome said.
And, like Parks, Gnome agreed that downtown businesses can benefit from supporting one another.
“If there’s going to be something for the square and to be local, we definitely want to be part of that,” she said.
The National Retail Federation forecasts holiday retail sales in November and December to increase between 4.3 and 4.8 percent over 2017 for a total of $720.89 billion.
The average annual increase over the past five years has been 3.9 percent.
“Our forecast reflects the overall strength of the industry,” NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay said in a press release. “Thanks to a healthy economy and strong consumer confidence, we believe that this holiday season will continue to reflect the growth we’ve seen over the past year. While there is concern about the impacts of an escalating trade war, we are optimistic that the pace of economic activity will continue to increase through the end of the year.”
Tim Evans, vice president of economic development for the Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce, said Black Friday and Small Business Saturday are “attention-getting” events, “particularly for our local retailers to encourage people to shop locally.”
And though some of the traditional shopping habits have changed as more and more people spend their money through online orders, the official kickoff to the holiday sales season still gives shoppers an experience they can’t find on the Internet.
“People shop by going to destinations,” Evans said, and that could include the downtown square, Lakeshore Mall, or a string of big-box retailers along Dawsonville Highway.
“Hopefully, it’ll be good for our local retailers,” Evans added. “Christmas is already in the air, whether we like it or not.”
Main Street Gainesville coupon book
Shoppers can purchase a coupon book with special deals at retailers and restaurants on the downtown Gainesville square for $5 by visiting the city’s tourism and marketing office at 117 Jesse Jewell Parkway, Suite 100.
The revenue generated from the coupon book is pumped into Main Street Gainesville’s event planning and façade grant programs.
The coupon book comes with a shopping bag, map of local establishments and visitors guide.
For more information, visit www.gainesville.org/main-street-gainesville