Business representative groups encourage residents to shop locally this holiday season – Albert Lea Tribune

Business representative groups are encouraging residents to shop locally this holiday season

Published 3:20 p.m. Wednesday 23 November 2022

As Albert Lea and the rest of the nation enter the holiday shopping season, business leaders in Albert Lea are encouraging residents to shop locally and support local businesses before withdrawing their money outside of the community or online.

Holly Karsjens, executive director of the Albert Lea Convention and Visitors Bureau and Main Street Albert Lea, said the organizations she oversees, as well as the Albert Lea Economic Development Agency and the Albert Lea-Freeborn County Chamber of Commerce, would join forces to promote Shop small campaigns and to remind people through both social media and print media that now is the time to shop local.

Karsjens said that for every $100 spent in a local business, $68 stays in the local economy.

“Local stores are where the community goes to when they are in need,” she said.

The companies are what community members turn to for donations for silent auctions and sponsorship for projects and events.

“Without our small businesses, we wouldn’t have the thriving community that we want,” she said.

In anticipation of Small Business Saturday, the organizations have collected information about sales and events taking place at businesses in the community and are posting it on an events page on Facebook, available through the Main Street and Chamber pages. It includes information on store opening hours, doorbusters, available gift bags for the first customer groups and other celebrations taking place.

“For a long time, especially the last 2 1/2 years, we thought, let’s get over this hump and then everything will be fine,” she said. “It really isn’t.”

She said the outcome of the local economy depends on the support businesses receive in the community and will determine where the community is in five or 10 years.

Albert Lea Mayor Vern Rasmussen Jr. presented a proclamation for Small Business Saturday at the Albert Lea City Council meeting Monday, which Karsjens hopes will also shed some light on supporting local businesses.

Though some people say they’re frustrated with the retail opportunities in the city, she reminded those people that stores, boutiques, and even restaurants are making changes to their inventory on a regular basis — some even every week.

“What you saw three months ago is very different now,” she said. “They’re constantly entering the market and constantly attracting new suppliers.”

She noted that it’s important to consider the many levels involved in a community’s offering for retail facilities, many of which are often traffic-driven.

“The only way we can grow and prove that we can have more things or more offerings is to do it with our own dollars,” Karsjens said. “We must be able to support what we have before we can demand that we can support more.”

Shari Sprague, executive director of the chamber, also encouraged people to consider buying chamber bucks, which can then be spent at local businesses, and also to support local restaurants. She wanted to remind people that several local places also offer goods online.

Karsjens encouraged people in the community who want to know more about the retail businesses or events in the community or who might want to open a store or who are looking for a place to connect with ALEDA, the Chamber, the CVB or Main Street leaders to step.

“One or more of our organizations can help,” Karsjens said.

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