Updated Mon, Jun 30, 2014 11:08 am
A group of Athens residents and business owners have put their heads together to come up with ways to promote shopping locally to support Athens businesses and keep money in the community.
Wendy Jakmas, president of the Athens Area Chamber of Commerce, said a focus group of 13 people was formed to think of ways get the message out about the importance of supporting local businesses. She said while there are several chamber members on the focus group, it’s not a chamber-exclusive initiative. The group began meeting about two months ago, according to Jakmas.
Eric Lucas, owner of Carpet One Floor & Moore, serves on the focus group. He said he has long been a staunch supporter of shopping locally. As president of the Athens Building Industry Association, Lucas said he’s very passionate about protecting Athens residents from out-of-town contractors who have no investment in the Athens community. He said the focus group seemed like a good match for him.
“Athens is a special community,” he said. “We have a reputation outside of the community as a cool place to go. If I could live anywhere in Ohio, it would be here.”
Lucas said shopping locally allows Athens County businesses to pay their employees a decent wage and to support local causes.
During a recent Chamber Before Hours event at Precision Imprint, the business provided attendees with T-shirts that read, “Love Athens, Shop Local” on the front and “You can’t buy happiness, but you can buy local, and that’s kind of the same thing” on the back. The shirts were designed by Heather Eubanks, who is a graphic designer and retail supervisor at Precision Imprint.
The group liked the shirts so much that the focus group decided to utilize the design to promote shopping locally. Precision Imprint opted to customize the shirts with area businesses’ logos for employees to wear.
Eubanks said that 12 local businesses had shirts made during the first round of printing, stating that she originally designed the shirt for Precision Imprint itself. She said some businesses are paying a little extra to have the slogan altered to fit their trade. For instance, she said the Athens Foundation is ordering shirts that say “give local” instead of “buy local.”
Precision Imprint is currently accepting orders for the shirts through July 10 and the shirts will be ready for pickup on July 18. The cost of the shirts for local businesses with their logo is $6 for sizes small-extra large and $8 for size 2x. A polyester version of the shirt is available for a slightly higher price. Orders can be placed by calling 592-5916 or emailing email@example.com.
Lucas said he proudly wears his Love Athens, Shop Local shirt during weekend outings to spread the message.
“It’s reminding people to spend their money here so we can have livable wages and take care of each other,” he said.
Jakmas said the chamber doesn’t receive any proceeds from the shirts, but the message could help others see the importance of spending locally, including at chamber member businesses.
She said many Athenians are already intune to purchasing local goods, but they can help spread the message during special events such as Ohio Brew Week and Ohio University’s move-in weekend.
“It’s about where we live and who we are,” Jakmas said.
The focus group is also considering putting the logo on decals in the future.
“We don’t know if it will catch on big, but it’s about spreading the message. This could just be something fun,” she said.