The past holiday season may have been like a lump of coal for many small local businesses, but O’Fallon traders are optimistic about sparking holiday cheer and have several promotions planned for this year.
The O’Fallon-Shiloh Chamber of Commerce and downtown merchants have teamed up to host “There’s No Place as a Local for the Holidays” from Friday November 26 to Friday December 17, and will participate in “Tinsel Around Town ‘and other Christmas events.
Small Business Saturday takes place on November 27, and a variety of shops, restaurants and services in the heart of O’Fallon keep shoppers stopping by.
“We want consumers to ‘buy local and buy small’ – this is our means of encouraging that,” said Debbie Arell-Martinez, director of the O’Fallon-Shiloh Chamber of Commerce.
“There is no place like the local for the holidays is a promotion to, again, encourage you to visit downtown businesses. Consumers will shop and then download their receipts for a chance to win cash prizes, ”she said.
After a successful launch of the renovated downtown district in late 2018, the coronavirus pandemic forced cancellations last year, but they have resumed their efforts to become a regional destination.
With 22 days of “Black Friday” shopping from Nov. 26 to Dec. 17, small business owners are rising to the challenge, said Jon Greenstreet, chair of the Downtown Merchants Committee. He owns Bike Surgeon.
In the fall of 2016, the Destination: O’Fallon economic development initiative was approved by O’Fallon City Council, with the proceeds of a motel-hotel tax increase intended for downtown revitalization. town and the improvement of the family sports park. In 2018, the O’Fallon station was built and opened in time for the holidays. The site of Vine Street Market, it has become a focal point and a gathering space for community events.
Traders in the downtown district formed a business group to promote the activities. They came together to become stronger as a group, Greenstreet said.
“Everyone worked hard as a collective. The interesting thing about entrepreneurs is that they are very independent, but we were able to connect and realize that more is going on than what’s inside our four walls. It made a lot of sense, and we all see the benefit of it, ”he said.
The group started to gain attention with their event lens – and interest grew. Businesses already downtown in 2018 – including Refinery Salon, Fezziwig’s Marketplace and Furchild – were integral to the planning of thematic activities.
“It was great to see people getting involved,” he said. “That was almost three years ago, and unfortunately we had to take a break last year, but we’re getting back together and hopefully going to have fun. The wheels are off, and now we’re back to planning for next year. We will have at least one event per month (in 2022).
Safety is a priority, with the ongoing public health crisis.
“We are coming back to a sense of normalcy, but there are concerns. There is a shift towards more outdoors, ”he said.
Greenstreet noted that newcomers have enthusiastically brought in new ideas. Cory Hollerbach of Art Gecko Studio suggested the ‘Chalk It Up’ event which took over community activities downtown this summer, and Chrissy Johnson of Boarding House Bistro offered the Halloween Hunt Pub Crawl, a. he declares.
“It’s great to see new business owners come into the spirit and contribute,” he said, noting that two companies joined the committee after the success of the Halloween event on October 28. .
The promotions are not funded by the city, is quick to point out Greenstreet. These are the companies. However, the city is useful, he said.
“It was a fruitful partnership between us traders, the town market and the town hall. They helped us build downtown, ”Greenstreet said.
Due to revitalization efforts, there are almost no vacancies downtown, he noted.
“This was certainly not the case 10 years ago. It’s great that people are investing downtown. We want to keep moving forward. We are here to continue, ”said Greenstreet.
There is no place like the local
After making a purchase – minimum $ 10 – at a participating local business, participants are encouraged to take a photo of their store receipt – and screenshots of receipts sent by email are acceptable. People can submit one entry for every $ 10 spent, and there is no limit to the number of entries.
Then scan the QR code presented by staff members and flyers located at the point of sale. Upload a photo of your receipt and complete contact and purchase information from the time of purchase until 7 p.m. on December 17.
Cash prizes will be in increments of $ 50, 75, 125, 259 and 500. Winners will be notified by the end of activities on December 20th.
All questions can be emailed to: [email protected]
Tinsel around town
Arell-Martinez said by visiting participating businesses downtown and Vine Street Market during normal hours – some with special holiday hours – on Saturday, December 11, people will receive double points for their purchases under of the Shop Local promotion.
“Tinsel Around Town takes place on the same day as the Vine Street Winter Market. During ‘Tinsel’ we will have stories about Avenue Realty and the Caboose, Caboan tours and Madrigals walking around singing. It’s a day to get you into the holiday spirit and downtown businesses, ”said Arell-Martinez.
She encouraged everyone to stay for the Vine Street Winter Market, which starts at 3:30 p.m.
“There will be so much going on downtown,” she said.
Vine Street Market
As part of the Vine Street Market, the Winter Market will be held from 3:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, December 11 at O’Fallon Station. About fifty sellers will participate,
The Vine Street Market was nominated for the most engaged community partner in a competition called “Silver Lining Stories”, currently underway by Illinois.
“Vine Street Market at O’Fallon Station is one of the largest farmers’ markets in southwest Illinois. Residents of neighboring counties and communities look forward to selling at the market and shopping at the market every Saturday. During the pandemic, Vine Street Market changed its model to a drive-thru approach and chased it for weeks. They even extended their service to a drive-thru Tuesday night, which people really responded to, ”the post said.
A pub crawl with a Christmas carol
The Halloween Hunt Pub Crawl was so successful that President Chrissy Johnson suggested a Christmas Carol Pub Crawl on Saturday, December 18, and between 8 and 10 seats attend, Greenstreet said.
From 5 p.m. to 9 p.m., groups are encouraged to dress up for an ugly sweater contest and get into the holiday spirit by singing Christmas carols in local bars. A Christmas Carol Contest will be held at 8:15 p.m. at Gears with teams voicing their best renditions of their assigned Christmas Carol, and the winners will receive prizes and be determined by an esteemed panel of judges.
Bad Santa will be present and take pictures with the teams.
Teams who post their photos on social media will receive a personalized commemorative gift by showing it to the organizers at the end of the evening.
Check in for the event at Gears starting at 4:45 p.m., where people will receive official rules, event entry bracelets and their assigned Christmas carol score.
Snowman Selfie Challenge
Now underway for the second year, the O’Fallon-Shiloh Chamber of Commerce is sponsoring a contest that gives people who post pictures of snowmen on their website a chance to win cash prizes. One photo per business is allowed – people can visit other participating businesses for more entries. Check out the details and rules at: https://offallonchamber.com/snowman/.
Returns from the holiday parade
Beth Ortega and her elves look forward to bringing the community together on Saturday, November 27, with the illuminated parade that has become a holiday tradition. It promises an epic party that will delight all ages.
The parade includes floats, marching bands, dance troupes, businesses and other illuminated holiday units. All units, including pedestrians, must be lit.
The parade begins at 6 p.m. downtown. Then, a community gathering will follow near Santa’s Hut, offering refreshments and prizes.
Visit https://ofallonholidayparade.com for route details, parking, post-parade party and other information.