The Ottumwa Courier

November 14, 2012

Chambers working to promote region for Black Friday and Small Business Saturday

CINDY TOOPES
Courier Staff Writer

OTTUMWA — Area chambers of commerce officials are gearing up for the coming holidays just as much as the shoppers are.

Terry McNitt, the executive director of the Ottumwa Area Chamber of Commerce, said the Ottumwa chamber is working hard to promote the local region for Black Friday on Nov. 23 and Small Business Saturday on Nov. 24.

“One of the things we’re pushing is to be the hub of commerce,” McNitt said. “The Ottumwa area has great retail stores and restaurants. We have a lot going for us.”

He also noted he enjoys walking through crowded business parking lots and checking vehicle license plates. It’s a quick way to check on who is driving to Ottumwa.

“While they’re here, visitors can buy gas and eat a meal,” he said. “Basically, we’re encouraging business leaders to get involved with doing what they can to promote business, attract local shoppers and those from other areas.”

McNitt said a lot of shopping is done online through American Express and several other companies. They promote the special shopping days in the stores and also use Facebook.

Holiday Nights ’N’ Lights in Ottumwa Park attracts numerous shoppers who want to see what else Ottumwa has.

“[The shoppers] get good customer service and a reason to come back to Ottumwa,” he added.

McNitt encouraged everyone to “light up Ottumwa” because it “makes the town look great” and “makes us all look good.”

Next week, the city’s decorations will be going up and so will the 35-foot Christmas tree.

“We hope people will stay home and shop local,” he said.

McNitt noted there were new additions, such as Kohl’s, and Ottumwa has a great mall. And the city already has numerous small businesses.

“I hope people will get out and patronize them,” he said.

In Oskaloosa, the Christmas Walk is set for 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Nov. 24, according to Deann De Groot, the Oskaloosa chamber’s office manager. She said newspapers will have three maps for shoppers. One is for the mall, downtown and the Oskaloosa outskirts.

De Groot also pointed out there won’t be a pancake breakfast this year, and shoppers have to be present to get “Oskaloosa cash,” which is a change from last year.

“The Fairfield Area Chamber of Commerce knows that this is the biggest time of year for our merchants,” said Nancy Morrissey, executive director of Fairfield Area Chamber of Commerce.

She also said that’s why the chamber is sponsoring the Nov. 23 Holiday Lighting Dedication Ceremony and the Dec. 7 Fairfield 1st Fridays Art Walk.

“The reason we dedicate ourselves to the sponsorship of these wonderful holiday events is with one thing in mind — driving traffic into our businesses the nights of Nov. 23 and Dec. 7 and in days leading to Christmas,” Morrissey said. “The chamber is committed to working for our members during this most important merchandising time of the year.”