By GREG RUSSELL, Register Staff Writer
Gainesville Daily Register
Cooke County —
“Keeping it local” is the key guideline Gainesville officials hope shoppers observe today.
Black Friday, they said, makes a fine opportunity for area residents to demonstrate loyalty to hometown businesses.
“It’s better to spend those dollars here and contribute to our community than to spend it somewhere else and contribute to their communities and their parks and that type of thing,” said Gainesville Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Lynette Pettigrew.
And Gainesville Mayor Jim Goldsworthy added that wherever shoppers go, he hopes they behave sensibly.
“The most important thing is to be safe,” he said Wednesday. “We had a couple instances last year where people were fighting over hand towels. That’s not our community and that’s not Gainesville. But it’s a great time, and I always encourage folks to buy local, since that money reverberates in our community.”
The mighty influx of sales tax revenue in recent years, Goldsworthy added, has not come only from local energy and manufacturing companies; retail shops have also contributed, and local shopping helps keep this ball rolling.
“Those are the things that are helping us do things like build pools and buy fire trucks,” he said, citing current civic projects. “Money spent in the community is money that stays in the community and that’s good for everyone.”
Goldsworthy added that Walmart, Gainesville’s chief “big-box” store, is a place where residents can shop locally, even if they aren’t contributing to the many small retail businesses native to the city.
“We have a lot of different venues,” he said. “And often the smaller mom-and-pop shops are overlooked because people feel they would get a better deal elsewhere. But by staying local, you can save time and you can save gas.”
And Pettigrew said Gainesville’s Black Friday tradition has a comrade in “Small Business Saturday,” an awareness campaign set to start Saturday.
Derived from a national program spearheaded by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the campaign encourages residents to stay close to home during this holiday weekend while doing any shopping.
Pettigrew said this year’s campaign theme is “Shop Small,” a message to patrons to veer toward small-scale merchants rather than big-box retailers.
Downtown Gainesville shops, she added, are expected to offer special discounts on Saturday as an incentive.
“We’ve done this before,” she said. “We have seen an increase in people coming through the local merchant’s doors, and we just want to remind people that they need to shop local. It also helps the merchants. We have merchants who own and operate here, and people plan around that; their whole livelihood is here. So this helps them, and helps them grow their business.”