From Black Friday to Small Business Saturday to Cyber Monday, there is no shortage of catchy themes to entice shoppers with savings.
Warren County Wednesdays is following suit.
The new shop local campaign has been created to promote and encourage residents — in particular those who work outside the county — to purchase gas, groceries and other items locally on Wednesdays.
With more than 50 percent of the county’s work force commuting from Warren to St. Charles, St. Louis or Franklin counties, Dr. Chris Gaines who helped organize the campaign hopes residents see value in making purchases from local businesses rather than near their places of employment.
“It’s raising awareness to get people to do business in Warren County, especially on Wednesdays,” Gaines said. “Hopefully that moves to a regular buying habit.”
The Warren County Wednesdays concept was initially thought of by Gaines. The Wright City R-II School District superintendent was driving one day when he heard advertisements promoting holiday shopping campaigns and decided to see if there was an interest in doing something similar locally. With the help of Warrenton and Wright City Chamber of Commerce members, a committee was formed to proceed with developing the new shop local idea.
Warren County Wednesdays will be officially launched next week, with signage and fliers to be displayed at various locations throughout the area. Gaines said a mailer may also be sent to residents informing them of the campaign.
Some local businesses may run specials on Wednesdays in conjunction with the shop local promotion, he said.
Jan Olearnick, Warrenton Chamber of Commerce executive director, noted shopping local not only aids businesses but also helps local governments. Local purchases generate sales tax revenues for county and municipalities, which can use the funds for infrastructure improvements on streets, parks or for other needs.
“We would rather have our roads paved by our people than roads say for St. Charles,” Olearnick said. “We are trying to keep the money here because we want to be as self-sustaining as possible. We understand people commute and understand the convenience factor. We would just like them to choose Warren County for their purchases if at all possible.”
Relationships also can be formed by shopping at a local store, Olearnick pointed out.
“Our local businesses are the ones hiring local community members,” she said. “We need to support that. Local businesses are the ones that contribute to sports teams, charities and local organization that in turn help our community members.”
While planning and preparing for the launch of the shop local campaign, local community leaders gained support from the the public sector. Warren County, Wright City and Innsbrook have all contributed funds to help market Warren County Wednesdays, Gaines said while Warrenton has agreed to allow use of an Interstate 70 billboard in Foristell to advertise the concept.
With the recent formation of the Greater Warren County Economic Development Council, a public-private partnership focused on luring manufacturers to the area, Warren County Wednesdays is more concentrated on helping existing retail businesses.
Gaines is glad to see positive steps being made through both efforts and with the support of elected officials. He now hopes residents see the benefits.
“We are seeing everyone work together on keeping the businesses we have and trying to grow our manufacturing base as well,” Gaines said. “It’s an awareness that we would like everyone to be doing business in our county.”