Main Street Round-Up: Shop Local, Shop Happy Edition

Posted on: November 7th, 2011 by National Trust for Historic Preservation 6 Comments

Written by Erica Stewart

Main Street mini golf at the November Starry Night event in Hammond, La. (Photo: National Trust for Historic Preservation)

Now that the calendar reads November, and Halloween candy is on deep discount at the grocery store, it’s okay - in my book anyway - to talk about the holiday shopping season. In the Main Street world, we see a strong tie between the health of historic downtown or neighborhood business districts and the health of the businesses that inhabit them. Makes sense, right? And as a member of the shopping public who does find extreme door-busting shopping a tad oft-putting, I’m all for conscientious consumerism.

So, I was happy to learn of two new national “shop indie” or “shop local” campaigns that give us some gentle reminders to show our favorite mom n’ pops some love when making the rounds this year, as well as give shop-owners some tools for drawing us in. “Shift your Shopping,” “Plaid Friday,” and “Small Business Saturday” each have persuasive arguments for how some well-placed cash can make a difference in keeping our local economies humming.

Take a 2008 study of Kent County, Michigan. Researchers estimated that shifting 10% of the county’s per capita spending from chains to locally-owned independent businesses would create “almost $140 million in new economic activity and 1,600 new jobs for the region.” Those types of gains are on every county’s wish list this year. We can do it!

Of course local Main Street organizations have plenty of experience in promoting home-grown businesses at the holidays and all-year round. One such holiday themed campaign comes from Minnesota Main Street. Its Holidays on MaiN campaign encourages Minnesotans to do 75% of their holiday shopping in local downtown districts. Gophers unite!

Folks in New Hampshire are taking a different approach to raising interest in its local artisans, craftspersons and entrepreneurs. Its NH Open Doors event offers the public a weekend (November 4-5 this year) of shopping and touring throughout the state, including free demonstrations, nibbles and activities. In Rochester, for example, one woodworking retail store featured a "meet the builder" session and a demonstration of wood finishing. Meanwhile, another local gallery will host an artist known for turning vintage golf clubs into ducks, backscratchers and wine bottle holders. Even more intriguing is his demonstration of how to fashion something called a "spurtle" out of cherry wood. Don’t ask me.

Louisiana Main Street has a month-long cultural road show in November it calls “Louisiana: Main to Main” to get residents and visitors whipped into a frenzy about its heritage, music, arts and crafts, and food (as if they weren’t already?). Festivals and special events take place in designated Main Street communities throughout the state to celebrate the state’s rich history, culture and creative and natural assets, and to encourage road trips from one Main Street community to the next. The fun includes a Tribute to Hank Williams, Sr. concert in Eunice, an “If Headstones Could Talk” cemetery tour in Abbeville, and a Civil War Encampment at Shadows-on-the-Teche in New Iberia. Need more convincing? Louisiana Main Street describes its communities this way: “Just like Mayberry only the diner sells gumbo and Aunt Bea does a wicked two-step!”

Erica Stewart is the outreach coordinator for the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s Public Affairs department.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation works to save America's historic places. Join us today to help protect the places that matter to you.

National Trust for Historic Preservation

National Trust for Historic Preservation

The National Trust for Historic Preservation, a privately funded non-profit organization, works to save America's historic places.

News Round-Ups

6 Responses

  1. Scott217

    November 7, 2011

    Here in Springfield, Illinois, Downtown Springfield, Inc. has developed two special shopping events. First Friday is a year-round event where downtown shops stay open late the first Friday of every month, and to encourage holiday shoppers tom come in, our annual Holiday Walks take place 4-5 times in December. The shops stay open late on those days as well.

  2. Peter Quinn

    November 10, 2011

    How do we, the Charleston, Illinois community, get involved with the Main Street Programs? I’m a new antique shop (we opened on the historical Courthouse Square in March 2011) in town and would be interested in getting your input, many thanks in advance for your time and attention.
    Peter Quinn
    CHARLESTON, IL 61920
    cell 202/236-9914

  3. Lee Steuby

    November 10, 2011

    Encourage questions, lecture the interested parties, or even show them how to research “antique” magazines to know the value of something. Put up signs: I’LL INFORM YOU IF YOU ASK ME”. Encourage others on the square to share in the local history, etc.

  4. Anne M. Imhoff

    November 11, 2011

    Here in Waterbury, VT we have a non-profit group, Revitalizing Waterbury, that promotes ‘shop locally': one weekend in the spring when a percentage of merchant sales goes to a different local charity/organization each year, and another ‘shop local’ between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

    Revitalizing Waterbury has been responsible for the restoration and saving of two historic buildings in Waterbury: 1) the Stimpson Graves building on historic Stowe St. that houses the Senior Center, fourteen affordable apartments for seniors, and antique store and 2) the Waterbury Railroad Station that now houses the Green Mountain Coffee Roasters retail store in part of building. The other part of the building serves railroad passengers and contains a historic video and interactive display. The group also sponsors a local artists and crafts display each fall, an annual contest for seasonal banners displayed on Village lampposts , and barrels containing seasonal flowers, plants and Christmas trees that adorn the VIllage streets year round.

    As a response to Tropical Storm Irene, RW created an offshoot, “Rebuild Waterbury,” that is raising funds for individuals and business that were severely effected by the storm.

  5. Peter Quinn

    November 12, 2011

    Thank you for your input, both responses are appreciated!!

  6. Stephanie

    November 13, 2011

    I have begun a petition asking people to commit to spending at least 50% of their holiday dollars locally. Think not only about your local book store, antique shop and jeweler but also a local maid service giving somebody the gift of a house cleaning for the holidays or a nail salon for a much needed mani and pedi. Be creative, but try and keep your spending local to benefit your own local economy.

    Sign the pledge at: