SWMI Regional Chamber's holiday gift guide encourages shopping local

ST. JOSEPH, Mich. -- Small Business Saturday may have come and gone, but Berrien County is hoping to inspire people to shop local all season.

That initiative being coined as “Small Business Season,” where shoppers can find an entire gift guide on the Southwest Michigan Regional Chamber’s website.

“American Express did a survey where 62 percent of businesses said they need consumer spending to return to pre-COVID levels by the end of 2020 in order to survive, so if you picture only 25 percent of businesses left standing that’s a reality we’re looking at,” said Arthur Havlicek, President & CEO at the Southwest Michigan Regional Chamber.

Restaurants, retail, gyms and wineries can all opt into the program.

Then — customers can see on the website if they offer curbside pickup, indoor or online shopping, plus get details on the types of gifts they can find.  

“People are telling us they’re making an effort, they’re not just by happenstance stumbling in, they’re seeking out small businesses and finding us through the gift guide and ways that in the past we wouldn’t have been promoted,” said Valerie Byrnes, Owner of Waterfront Frames & Design.

Even though we’ve all adapted to doing things virtually, these owners also hope people don’t forget the value of a store experience.

“I know it’s more convenient to order online, but more than ever people are looking for the escape that comes from the tactile experience and walking through and being inspired,” said Kellye Wilson, Owner of Perennial Accents.

And there is a payoff that’s unique to shopping local – which benefits your community.

“When you spend 100 dollars at a local business, surveys estimate that 68 dollars stays in the community, which shows when you invest in your local businesses they then reinvest that money, it’s good for everybody,” said Havlicek.

Both Perennial Accents and Waterfront Frames & Design are offering private shopping experiences before and after regular store hours for any customer who would feel safer.

To see the Southwest Michigan Regional Chamber’s holiday gift guide, click here.

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