“Local businesses are the first to support the local economy,” Joanna Rolek, executive director of the Lake Forest/Lake Bluff Chamber of Commerce, said. “The dollars spent at local businesses are recycled into the community.”
To help drive dollars to local businesses, the Lake Forest/Lake Bluff Chamber of Commerce will kick off a month-long Shop Local First contest on Saturday.
During the month of September, residents who spend $500 or more at Lake Forest and Lake Bluff retail businesses and restaurants can enter to win a $1000 Chamber of Commerce certificate, redeemable at any Chamber member store or eatery in Lake Forest and Lake Bluff. For examples of where to shop with the certificate, visit the Shop Local First website.
“We have heard some great stories from businesses that have benefited from this,” Rolek said. “The Lake Forest Bookstore had a teacher walk in who used to go elsewhere for books for her class, but she got the books there instead and spent $1000. Then she walked across the street to drop off her receipts for the contest.”
The COC first launched the Shop Local First contest in 2006, and has repeated it on and off since then with great success. Two years ago, the contest went on for 3 consecutive months, with over 900 participants and $460,000 spent in local businesses.
“The idea came in 2006 from the needs of businesses at the time,” Rolek said. The goal was to retain the vitality of downtown businesses and acquaint the public with the need for their support. “Basically we needed to retain local character and property value, encourage business diversity and promote the environmental benefit of staying close to home.”
The Chamber has won a national award for Shop Local First, which has been emulated in local communities, according to Rolek. Last week, the Lake Bluff Village Board proclaimed Sept. 10-14 Chamber of Commerce Week. On Sept. 4, the City Council in Lake Forest will do the same.
“We wanted to expand beyond the one week and make it a month long celebration of small business,” Rolek said.
To enter the raffle, residents can bring their original receipts totaling $500 to the Chamber of Commerce office from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. Chamber staff will enter them in the drawing.
On weekends or after business hours, residents may bring their receipts in a self-addressed envelope to Pasquesi Home & Gardens Market Square, 695 North Western Ave. The drawing will be held on Oct. 2, 2012. For raffle details, please visit the Chamber website.
The Chamber will be launching an additional way to support local businesses in the next couple weeks.