East Main Street

Summer tourists long gone, East Main Street was quiet but for school buses mid-afternoon Tuesday. Shopkeepers are looking for local support to make it through the holidays and beyond.

The Buena Vista Chamber of Commerce will launch its #ShopBVFirst campaign the week of Thanksgiving, promoting local businesses in an effort to get shoppers to spend their money locally this holiday season.

The effort comes as a part of a broader statewide Shop Local Colorado initiative announced by Gov. Jared Polis earlier this month, as well as Small Business Saturday, which champions local brick-and-mortar shops in complement what was traditional Black Friday and Cyber Monday following Thanksgiving.

“In addition to Shop Local and Small Business Saturday, we have been working with the Chaffee County Small Business Coalition – made up of the BV and Salida chambers, Central Mountain Small Business Development Center, and Salida Business Alliance and supported by Economic Development – to provide online webinars and tools for businesses as we go into the holiday season,” said Melissa Traynham, the BV Chamber’s executive director. “Those can be found on our Facebook page under our events or on our events page on our website. Just today there was a webinar on ‘Reaching People Online with Google.’”

According to the Small Business Administration, when you shop locally, 70% of spending stays in the local economy, whereas only 40% remains when shopping non-locally. This means if you spend $100, your community keeps $70. This increases local tax revenues used to support schools, police, fire stations, roads and more. Local businesses also utilize other local businesses such as marketing, accounting and printing, further impacting the local economy.

“The main foundation of it all is that when you shop local, small businesses thrive. And when small businesses are thriving, a number of things happen: Number one, the obvious thing, is that when you’re giving your money to a local business, those dollars stay in the community and they recycle, so to speak. The small business owners then invest in other local businesses and the dollars don’t disappear to some big corporation halfway across the country,” said Jon Frykholm, who owns Little Elk Trading Company on East Main Street with his wife Annie. The Frykholms also create the funiture and artwork sold in their store.

“Then, when you invest in small businesses, they go and create local jobs,” he said.

Little Elk moved from Summit County to Main Street a little over a year ago and since then, Frykholm said the Buena Vista community has welcomed them “with open arms.

“We have felt tremendous support from the community through this year. There have been many people who have been deliberately shopping local, and that’s been huge for us to help keep us in business,” Frykholm said. “When things really finally turn around and get going again, we’re going to be hiring more help, because we see the potential.”

Keeping locally-owned small businesses thriving also helps ensure that your local business community is, well, local, and the town keeps a unique, independent identity.

“More entrepreneurs are drawn to the community, and it begins to offer an unique character for our community,” Frykholm said

Contrary to early concerns, once state lockdowns were lifted, Buena Vista experienced a busy, lucrative summer season.

“If you just look at the numbers on paper, this was an incredibly successful summer, and talking to other businesses, if they were able to figure out a strategy to safely remain open, they did extremely well,” said Matt Wells, co-owner of Black Burro Bikes in Buena Vista’s South Main.

Now that the golden leaves are long gone from the aspens and the nights are growing longer, the time of the year has come for Buena Vistans to support one another.

Traynham said the chamber is also preparing to launch websites created in partnership with the Chaffee County Visitors Bureau “that will list all the food service options in the county, as well as a retail page for local businesses to promote during the holiday season,” Traynham said.

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