Community leaders chime in on supporting local businesses during the holiday season
The holiday season typically produces the largest chunk of revenue for many small businesses across the country every year, but with COVID-19 pandemic and a shortage of workers, everyone is working harder than ever to support their community.
Due to the pandemic, business have adjusted their delivery models and have made wholesale changes in order to remain afloat amid virus concerns and restrictions.
For some, this Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day holiday season might make or break things.
With that, we talked to a few Verde Valley leaders about how they plan to set the example as individual consumers — what they’ll buy, where they’ll shop and how they’ll help their communities take advantage of their small-business areas of strength.
Candace Carr Strauss
Sedona Chamber of Commerce and Tourism Bureau
Candace Carr Strauss, president and CEO of the Sedona Chamber of Commerce and Tourism Bureau, said that when you shop local, it says, “I love my small town.”
“It is a major draw for many of the people coming to the Sedona and Verde Valley region this time of year,” Strauss said, adding that she’ll be buying a lot of Arizona wines to celebrate the holidays this year, and the Verde Valley’s recent AVA designation.
“This is a big deal! I also love to support local artisans and also give gift cards to local retailers and spas to staff and friends because it is always fun to be able to spoil ones-self, which if you’re like me, you don’t do often,” Strauss said. “The Sedona Chamber has a number of communication vehicles including its website, visitor and resident emails and social media platforms to share the #ShopLocal effort not only on ‘Shop Local’ Saturday of Thanksgiving weekend but through the end of the year.”
Christian Oliva del Rio
Cottonwood Chamber of Commerce
Christian Oliva del Rio, president and CEO of the Cottonwood Chamber of Commerce, said his family loves to shop local all year round, but the holiday season is “especially fun.”
“Most years we get our shopping done after the Christmas parade. We make a day of it, enjoy the parade, and then explore all that Old Town Cottonwood has to offer,” Oliva del Rio said. “With amazing and unique shops, we are always able to find gifts for those difficult to shop for.”
Olivia del Rio said the local Verde Valley wines are “always a hit” for gifts, along with local restaurants that sell gift cards.
“I encourage you to support our local merchants and encourage our merchants to think outside the box. They were able to adjust due to the pandemic and that entrepreneurial spirit can go a long way this holiday season,” Oliva del Rio said.
Clarkdale Mayor Robyn Prud’homme-Bauer said shopping local businesses is something she does all the time — not only during the holiday season.
“Right now, it is very important that we support our local businesses,” Prud’homme-Bauer said. “It has been a tough year.”
Prud’homme-Bauer points out that there are many Clarkdale businesses to support.
“You can purchase gasoline, pet supplies, wine, beer and snacks, cactuses and succulents, and everyday household supplies,” she said. “You can eat at very good restaurants and café/bakery, meet the locals at a brewery, local bar, and several wine tasting businesses, or go to a day spa for a massage.”
For either businesses that aren’t fully operational now, or for those not comfortable seeking select products or services during a pandemic gift certificates should be a consideration, Prud’homme-Bauer said. She said the Verde Canyon Railroad, Clarkdale Kayak Company, the Copper Arts Museum and the Park Hotel have such gift certificates available.
“Clarkdale has a lot to offer,” Prud’homme-Bauer said. “My holiday gift-giving will be from the wonderful local businesses in Clarkdale.”
Economic Development Director
Town of Camp Verde
Steve Ayers, economic development director for the Town of Camp Verde, said his family has made a point to shop local for Christmas gifts since they moved here nearly three decades ago.
“Sometimes it is just gift certificates, like to local restaurant. I also find a lot of innovative ways to stuff stockings locally,” Ayers said. “Among the best places to hunt down those items are the vintage and resale markets around town. It’s great fun because you never know what you are going to find.”
Ayers encouraged local retailers to advertise their products, either through the local newspaper, radio or online social media platforms. And it always helps a local shopper to get a few suggestions for gifts from the experts themselves.
“I recently saw in the newspaper where a local plant nursery was offering gift certificates. What a great idea! I believe people want to shop local, but sometimes they just need some ideas on what the local business has to offer,” Ayers said.
Cottonwood Mayor Tim Elinski said his family has been shopping locally, year-round, for years.
“We are committed to continuing this tradition ourselves and will be visiting some of our favorite local stores online, through their website or calling to place orders,” Elinski said. “For sure, our local favorites will welcome the business and, as we have found, are happy to help us make decisions, deliver or provide curbside pickup.”
Some of the Elinski family’s traditional purchases include local Arizona wine from the Southwest Wine Center or local tasting room — either to complement meals or to ship to out-of-state friends and family.
“We adorn our front door with a wreath that we purchase from a Cottonwood Boy Scout troop, and we always purchase a few new ornaments for our daughters to place on the tree from one of the antique shops on Main Street in Old Town,” Elinski said. “Our little dog Frida gets her own holiday treats from Pawz on Main.”
Sedona Mayor Sandy Moriarty said she prefers to hand-deliver gifts bought in her city.
“I always do some local shopping for all occasions, year-round, but especially at the holidays,” Moriarty said. “I always take a case of local wine to my family in San Diego, and this year it looks like I will be shipping it.”
Moriarty said she also takes advantage of take-out or pick up the local shops that offer it.