Shop locally, particularly during the holiday season.
It’s a message that Mansfield officials and those associated with the Mansfield Downtown Partnership are starting to regularly repeat and one that they hope residents will take to heart.
By combining forces, the two groups have put together "Local First Mansfield," a pilot program that encourages people to stick close to home for their holiday shopping experience.
On Tuesday, Nov. 22, several business owners joined in on a special discussion about the exciting venture at Mansfield General Store to help launch the program.
"The goal of the program is to make people more aware of businesses in town," Special Projects Coordinator Kathleen Paterson, with the MDP, said, noting that many people transition in and out of town and may not be aware of what local businesses offer.
Paterson handed out packets to business owners that contained suggestions on how to improve the profile of each business and a summary of the initiative.
Paterson also made sure the small business owners were equipped with information about the state Department of Economic and Community Development's Small Business Express Program (which provides loans and grants to Connecticut's small businesses), promotional materials including posters, gift tags and jars were included.
Paterson said that customers who patronize participating businesses can enter their name into a drawing for prizes, which will be collected from the jars at the end of December. This will help to promote the holiday shopping season in town.
According to the National Retail Federation, shoppers will spend an average of over $700 during the holiday season on items ranging from gifts to food to pet supplies, according to a news release provided by the group. By supporting local businesses during this time, residents can have a big impact on Mansfield businesses.
There is no fee to participate, and services provided include business listings on the group's website, blog announcements, the use of the First Mansfield logo and press releases through Q-Notify, the town of Mansfield, Mansfield Downtown Partnership, the partnership's Facebook page and blog.
Town Manager Matthew Hart attended the launch and said that he was very excited to be part of the town's economic endeavor, noting that "First Campaigns" have become more popular in recent years.
"This is a pilot program, and we are soliciting your feedback and will reach out to you to get your feedback," he told the crowd. "We'd like to run various promotions year round, and it's in everyone's best interest to work together."
Mayor Elizabeth Paterson noted that she would highlight the campaign at the next town meeting, which airs on cable TV. "I'll do everything I can to get the word out," she said.
Businesses that are interested in participating or need more information may contact the Partnership office at 860-429-2740 or via email at email@example.com. The program is open to businesses whose owners live in Mansfield or within 75 miles of town.