CH@T: Pittsboro businesses prep for special day, virtual holiday event

Posted 11/19/20

Retailers in Pittsboro have big plans for Small Business Saturday, a shopping holiday held each year the Saturday after Thanksgiving. This week, we speak with members of the Pittsboro Business …

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CH@T: Pittsboro businesses prep for special day, virtual holiday event

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Retailers in Pittsboro have big plans for Small Business Saturday, a shopping holiday held each year the Saturday after Thanksgiving. This week, we speak with members of the Pittsboro Business Association about this day earmarked to showcase small business: Pam Fulk — who’s coordinating Small Business Saturday — and the Pittsboro Business Association’s Maria Parker-Lewis and Scott Dunham, PBA’s Marketing Committee chairman.

Fulk is the executive director of Carolina Tiger Rescue and the PBA’s president. Parker-Lewis, PBA’s vice president, and her husband, Greg, own 39 West catering and a soon-to-be-opened new restaurant at Chatham Marketplace, and are the former owners of Pittsboro Roadhouse. Dunham owns Tarheel Getaways, a vacation planning service, in Pittsboro.

The pandemic seems to have put life on hold for a lot of us, but for many businesses, it’s more of a distinct reality. As Pittsboro’s businesses move into the heart of the fourth quarter of the year — a make or break time under normal circumstances — what’s the general outlook and feeling about sustainability?

Most businesses remain nervous but hopeful. Owning a successful business depends on a mixture of hard work, the ability to be forward thinking, flexibility, an optimistic attitude and a measure of luck. The first four ingredients come into play in almost equal parts these days. However, a double dose of optimism is required. It’s necessary when times are so challenging. You absolutely must believe this, too, shall pass and we will come through it strong.

We’re like everyone else; we want this situation to pass, but we continue to do everything we can to keep our customers, our staff and ourselves healthy. However, another shutdown, or further restrictions, may prove to be too big a challenge for many small businesses.

Many organizations have been relegated to meeting virtually or not at all during the pandemic. What’s the case for the PBA?

Virtually. We’ve been Zooming and it’s been working well for us. I think there is a certain level of energy that can’t be duplicated that comes from meeting in person, but there’s definitely the level of convenience that comes with the ability to meet from your office or home. Maybe, moving forward, we’ll do a combination.

Some of the PBA’s hallmark events have changed. Let’s start with Small Business Saturday — what do we need to know about it?

It’s set for Saturday, Nov. 28, and is sponsored by American Express. It’ll start at 10 a.m. and end at 4 p.m.

Based on our 2019 experience, we expect to receive from American Express one box of tote bags and one large banner, along with a few other promotional items, so we will be delivering to all downtown businesses the week prior to SBS to help them promote the day.

The PBA will have a free gift-wrapping station set up at the new welcome center. We will have a few more totes, blank passports, and two containers for completed passports for shoppers. The $100 drawing requires passports stamped (or handwritten verification) showing that eight stores were visited. The $50 drawing requires at least four stamps.

All shops in downtown should be observing all safety measures and we’re encouraging visitors to do so as well.

For shoppers, no purchase can be required to receive a stamp from your business/store. All completed passports must be turned in at the gift wrap station no later than 4 p.m. or to New Horizons Downtown or Pittsboro Toys no later than 5 p.m.

Winners need not be present to win; they’ll be notified by the sponsor.

What can businesses do to make the day a success?

Place “Small Business Saturday” signs in your storefront window, if available. Decorate your store front to draw people in. We hope to market SBS by posting pictures of your shop fronts leading up to that day. If possible, open early as people begin showing up early that day. Promote the event on your own social media. Plan specials/activities and post on your PBA page.

Music (especially holiday), inviting scents, treats, cider/cocoa, small giveaways, your own door prize drawings and other such fun incentives can really lure people in, get them in the spirit, and make them remember you fondly for further shopping later.

Christmas is just six weeks away. What are the plans for the annual Christmas Tree Lighting?

The Tree Lighting will be virtual this year. We are seeking pre-recorded performances from schools, students, local bands, local businesses, churches and individuals. We do need them submitted within the next several days. We have some fabulous groups that have already sent in their performances, but we need more. We’re also interested in hearing a child record their letter to Santa, which we will play for him when he is here.

Santa will not be able to visit person to person, but we will have a drive-up photo op with Santa inside a giant snow globe. Families can contact the PBA and we will give them time a time slot between 1 and 4 p.m. on the 22nd to drive up, pose in front of the globe and take a picture with Santa.

The Tree Lighting and the Snow Globe are on the 22nd, at 6 p.m., but we need to stress that the entertainment portion is virtual. No concert will occur; the pre-recorded entertainment will be streamed via a YouTube channel; information for that and for Snow Globe times can be found using the information below.

We need to thank Phillips Farms who have very generously donated the tree which will be placed in its traditional location in front of the courthouse. They have a number of beautiful trees and we encourage people to check them out when they’re ready to purchase a tree for their home.

Information about Holly Days events is available on Facebook in the “events” section of our Pittsboro Business Association page, and on our website at www.shoppittsboro.com. Questions may be emailed to downtown.pittsboro@gmail.com.

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