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Shopping for McHenry County discounts

Caption
(Monica Maschak – mmaschak@shawmedia.com)
Mona Holloman, of Huntley, browses through the ornaments Wednesday at the Seasons By Peg shop in the Woodstock Square.

To help promote the Black Orchid Boutique on Green Street in McHenry, owner Carol Chrisman is offering 10 percent off clothing that is not on sale.

To get the deal, however, customers have to show the McHenry Now app on their phone, which was launched last month by the McHenry Area Chamber of Commerce.

The app is one way chambers of commerce and municipalities are encouraging residents to shop locally during the holiday season.

The McHenry Now app, promoting special deals from participating businesses, is the first of its kind in the county, said Kay Rial Bates, president of the McHenry Area Chamber of Commerce.

“People want to have instant information,” Bates said.

The app rewards people with deals or goodies for shopping locally, Bates said. The app had a soft launch last month, and organizers hope it gains enough of a following to spur more local shopping next holiday season.

Bates long has been a proponent and campaigner of shopping local.

“The main reason you shop local is you keep your money in the area,” Bates said. “It helps pay for public services, parks and recreation, puts another policeman on the road, and more importantly, it keeps your neighbor employed.”

People who look for something specific might have to spend their money elsewhere, such as online or in another city.

“I think most of us get that,” Bates said. “Our focus is, look at home first before you go out of the area.”

Other methods to promote shopping locally include using social media networks and offering chances at winning gift certificates.

The Cary-Grove Area Chamber of Commerce promotes shopping local and local deals through its weekly emails and Facebook posts, Executive Director Suzanne Corr said.

“It’s really the local businesses that contribute so much more to the general welfare of the community,” Corr said.

Corr noted that every dollar spent locally has a multiplier effect. For every $100 spent locally, $68 is returned into the community in taxes and payroll, according to The 3/50 Project, a website that promotes shopping at independent stores.

“I like to remind people, you really get more of those monies back into the community,” Corr said.

Chrisman also posts promotions on Facebook.

“It’s what most everyone is on,” she said.

She also does cross promotions with Pzazz Gifts & Home Decor in Woodstock. If customers mention they saw something at Pzazz or vice versa, they could get a discount.

“It’s so important how much people realize they need to help support local businesses for tax dollars,” Chrisman said.

People also will come to local businesses for donations during local fundraisers.

“For us to keep giving to them, they have to patronize us,” Chrisman said. “For me to donate, I have to have people come in here.”

Other towns offer incentives, too. As part of the “I Shop Crystal Lake” program, the municipality is holding a drawing for a $1,000 gift certificate and other smaller gift certificates to local stores when people spend $200 at Crystal Lake businesses through Jan. 31.

Crystal Lake has held the contest since 2009 and began quarterly contests this year.

“It’s an incentive for people to do their shopping here,” said James Richter, assistant director of economic development in Crystal Lake.

The past two contests had more than 2,000 entries each. Richter’s office already has lots of entries for the $3,000 in potential prizes.

“We’re elated with how much interest there is in this holiday contest,” Richter said.

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