ShopOwensboro, the Greater Owensboro Chamber of Commerce’s annual “shop local” initiative held on Small Business Saturday (the day after Black Friday) is taking on a new theme this year.
Saturday, November 26, local bargain hunters are asked to play a little game of BINGO – ShopOwensboro style!
How to Play
Here’s how it works: Shoppers pick up a BINGO card at the kickoff, plot their routes, and begin their day of shopping, marking off the designated spaces for the stores they visit to form the winning straight lines, diagonals, four corners, or similar configurations to claim their prizes.
“The BINGO cards will add some fun,” says Chamber Program and Events Manager, Jessica Kirk, who is organizing the day. “We expect most people will start where they normally like to shop, but when they need one certain spot on the card, they may end up going someplace they normally wouldn’t go.”
It’s a fun way to spread the ShopOwensboro love around. “There will be different variations of cards distributed evenly among the bags the shoppers pick up at the kickoff so it’s fair,” Kirk added.
The ShopOwensboro kickoff is an event in and of itself, complete with door prizes, food, and coffee to get shoppers charged up and ready to shop. Last year, there were two kickoffs, one at the Independence Bank 54 location and the other at the Frederica location. This year, the kickoff is centralized to the Independence Square location at 2425 Frederica Street.
The kickoff is an open house format, where shoppers drop in, pick up their packets and BINGO cards, grab some coffee, and get to shopping!
Maps with participating stores are also included in the shoppers’ bags, along with coupons and hours of operation.
Shop Owensboro First
After participating in American Express’s national “Small Business Saturday” campaign since 2013, last year the Chamber slightly switched the focus from Shop Small Saturday to ShopOwensboro, giving the initiative a local focus.
“What we’re telling people is shop Owensboro first, then look online or in another town,” Kirk explains.
Last year’s ShopOwensboro, unfortunately, had to contend with terrible weather, but the cold rain wasn’t enough to keep the die-hard shoppers away. ShopOwensboro 2015 utilized a “passport card” that was stamped at each stop like a passport. Despite the cold and rain, the exposure the small businesses received was a truly a bright spot.
Katherine Taylor of Studio Slant, for example, said the studio saw it’s best Small Business Saturday in five years.
“We saw generations of families get their shopping bags. Everyone from kids to parents, to grandparents, and relatives visiting from out of town,” Kirk said.
Cheerleaders for Commerce
From the Chamber’s perspective, Kirk says ShopOwensboro is one of the most enjoyable days of the year because it’s so much fun to support the participating businesses and shops. “Owensboro is good about supporting local shops and businesses on a wide scale, but this one day really focuses on local businesses and brings a lot of awareness to the movement.”
BINGO cards aside, ShopOwensboro is not a competition. It’s not divisive among local businesses; the day is really about strength in unity.
Businesses who participated in the past serve as coaches and cheerleaders for first-time participating businesses. “It promotes a community between the businesses,” says Bella Regazza owner, Natasha Gaw. “We’ve got to lift each other up because we’re working for a common goal.”
Even Independence Bank, as the event sponsor, went out of their way to encourage participating stores last year by taking cupcakes and cookies to shops to wish them “good luck.” Not to mention their extra effort to promote the event through all of their branches and media outlets.
To draw attention to ShopOwensboro, each participating store will have a promotional Instagram cut-out where people can take selfies and share on social media. Stores can decorate the cut-outs however they want and are encouraged to use the hashtag #GoChamber on Instagram and Twitter.
Follow The Loop
15 stores are collaborating to form a “loop”on Instagram, which is a term for a certain list of actions to be followed in a certain amount of time. The 15 participating stores in the loop post the same picture with exact instructions at the same time, which are linked back to the other 14 stores. Followers then follow the directions, sort of like a virtual scavenger hunt, until they complete the loop back to the original store’s post they started from.
By the Numbers: ShopOwensboro 2015:
36 participating businesses
350 shopping bag packets given away at kickoff
Several businesses reported gaining 300-400 followers on social media directly from ShopOwensboro