‘Shop local’ holiday theme

PHOTO BY CHRISTOPHER TOMLINSON—Karen Hildebrandt, owner of Unique Expressions, 336 Main St in downtown Grand Junction sets up a Christman display in her store.Art to go with Emily’s story fro the Sunday Biz swction.Sent as SUN BIZ LOCAL SHOPPING 11-15.

A profitable holiday season for local retailers and restaurants is at the top of Kathy Dirks’ wish list.

As marketing director for the Downtown Development Authority, Dirks has made local shopping the mantra of the DDA’s holiday advertisement campaign. The message on its billboards, radio spots and print ads is have fun, catch the holiday spirit, and support downtown businesses.

“I think it’s important people remember these are locally owned shops and restaurants,” Dirks said.

Dirks is making sure patrons get more than a handful of gifts out of their downtown visits through the end of the year. Parking is free in designated spots downtown from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day. A disc jockey will play holiday music from noon to 3 p.m. downtown every Saturday and Sunday between Thanksgiving and Christmas, and many stores will stay open until 7 p.m. on Fridays and open from noon to 3 p.m. on Sundays.

Carriage rides will be offered on Main Street on Friday nights in December. Events such as the Art and Spirit Walk on Dec. 4 and the Winter Festival and Parade of Lights on Dec. 5 also are expected to bring shoppers downtown.

“What I think downtown has is the entire holiday experience: shopping, dining, family-fun events, fun windows,” Dirks said. “We hope to have a lot of activity, a lot of holiday spirit. I just know in talking to merchants people are very excited about the holidays.”

Mesa Mall also hopes to plump up holiday sales with a weekly holiday essentials guide that has deals and sales from mall retailers and information about “Freebie Fridays” between Nov. 27 and Dec. 18. Customers can come to the mall kiosk to get free items while supplies last each Friday, including lattes, photos with Santa, wraps from Mesa Wraps in the food court, and $10 gift cards. Fifty to 100 items will be offered each Friday. The mall also will choose three shoppers at random at noon Dec. 4 to tear through a pile of wrapped boxes to find a $500 mall gift card.

That will be a lot of giveaways, but Mesa Mall’s marketing manager, Jammie McCloud, said it’s worth it to attract holiday shoppers.

“It’s vital. It’s really our make-it or break-it season,” McCloud said.

The Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce recognizes the importance of December purchases and wants as many purchases as possible to be made in the Grand Valley. The chamber is spreading a word-of-mouth shop local campaign this year, but Executive Director Diane Schwenke said the chamber hopes to offer deals from numerous merchants and market a larger campaign for shopping local in 2010.

“It’s kind of in the formative stages right now,” Schwenke said.

The idea behind holiday shopping campaigns this year and next year is to “bring it to the top of your mind where your paycheck comes from,” Schwenke said. That means reminding people of the cycle from customer dollars to retailer’s pay as well as sales taxes that benefit the community.

Fruita and Palisade’s chambers of commerce have events to keep shoppers in town for the holidays.

Fruita will host its first Hometown Cowboy Christmas Shopping and Festivities event 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Nov. 27 and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Nov. 28. Christmas carolers will serenade shoppers as they peruse downtown vendor booths and enjoy extended hours at downtown Fruita shops. Stores will stay open late Dec. 18 during and after a candy land-themed Christmas parade downtown.

Palisade Chamber Executive Director Leif Johnson hopes the town’s Olde Fashioned Christmas on Dec. 11-13 will attract shoppers to its retailers and restaurants. The weekend includes a processional walk from the Blue Pig Art Gallery to Tim Wedel’s studio, with chocolate available at every art locale on the way. The downtown Christmas tree lighting will be Dec. 11; and Olde Fashioned Christmas also will host wine tastings, a chili cook-off, a Christmas parade, Victorian home tours, wagon rides, a car show, kid train rides, vendor booths, a craft tent for kids, an “olde towne” marketplace and other events Dec. 12; and a Christmas tea party at the Wine Country Inn on Dec. 13.


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