‘Shop Southern Illinois’ bolsters small businesses

A better local economy could be in your hands this holiday season.

Researchers at the University of Illinois have been studying the affects of shoppers leaving town to buy gifts; the consequences are higher taxes and fewer jobs.

It was Lauren Craig’s dream to own a boutique.

She wanted to bring the feel of a big city shop to Southern Illinois.

“To watch the business grow is a dream come true,” said Craig.

A growing business requires loyal customers.

Jan Campbell with the Carterville Chamber of Commerce thought that if Eccentrics Boutique could thrive, why couldn’t all of Carterville’s local businesses?

She started a “shop local” initiative and encouraged her neighboring communities to take a pledge to spend money in their own towns.

“And before we knew it, there were nine chambers, well, ten in all that jumped on board with us,” said Campbell.

Money spent at locally-owned businesses stays in the community.

But it is more than just money circulation between buying and selling goods.

Between part-time and full-time positions, Craig employees eight on her community members.

And Campbell says you cannot beat the customer service you get from a local business.

“If you don’t get that personal touch from local people, you’re missing out,” said Campbell.

“We will have all of your gifts packaged, you can order online and just stop in and pick it up,” said Craig.

Craig says the people that walk in her door and thumb through her clothing racks are more than customers; she says they are her friends.

You can make the pledge to shop local this holiday season, too.

Visit www.shopsouthernillinois.com to learn more, just in time for Small Business Saturday.

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