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Follansbee Chamber of Commerce urging support of small businesses

FOLLANSBEE — From supporting festivals and other special events to sponsoring youth sports leagues and donating prizes for auctions and drawings benefiting various charities, local small businesses have played an active role in the community.

And leaders of the Follansbee Chamber of Commerce are asking everyone to remember them when seeking gifts for friends, family and co-workers on their Christmas gift list.

They have been busy posting signs along Main Street promoting Small Business Saturday, which is just three days away, and distributing to local businesses bags containing promotional materials for the occasion, including sturdy tote bags that may be shared with customers.

“We’re just trying to grab people’s attention as they drive down Main Street,” said Brandi Puskarich, the chamber’s vice president; who with chamber member Donna Henline, coordinated efforts to promote the occasion.

Puskarich said the closing of businesses deemed non-essential earlier this year and other conditions wrought by the pandemic have dealt a blow to many small businesses.

She said even some long-time establishments may find it difficult to endure and if they are forced to close, it will leave a void.

“When you shop at a small business, 67 cents of every dollar stays in your community,” Puskarich said, adding, “It does make a difference when you support the small businesses.”

She and others noted local businesses often offer unique gift items that can’t be found in other places while gift-givers also may consider gift certificates or gift cards for local restaurants and hairstylists for those who are difficult to buy for.

Puskarich noted many small businesses have found ways to increase their accessibility during the pandemic.

She cited as examples those that have used the Internet and social media to advertise specials or accept orders.

“Sometimes you have to think outside the box, and there are business owners who are really getting creative and thinking of new ideas,” Puskarich said.

She added the chamber itself has been forced this year to curtail many of its plans, including the return of a job fair that had drawn many last year.

Free concerts slated for Follansbee Park this summer also were canceled, but the performers involved have been booked for next year instead.

Puskarich said despite such setbacks, the chamber remains committed to helping local businesses weather the current storm while looking for brighter days in the future.

“It’s been difficult but next year we’ll come back bigger and better,” she said.

(Scott can be contacted at wscott@heraldstaronline.com.)

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