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Meet a merchant by trying local on Tuesday


-  Chambers monthly event designed to acquaint shoppers with area businesses

Looking for someplace closer to home to meet friends for dinner or find a unique gift? by: OUTLOOK FILE PHOTO - The Local Cow, 36 N. Main Ave. in downtown Gresham, plays host to the chambers Try Local Tuesday event from 4:30-6 p.m. April 1.

The Gresham Area Chamber of Commerce is inviting you to try local — Tuesday.

In January, the chamber launched Try Local Tuesday, a monthly 90-minute meet-n-greet hosted by a local business. The event is designed to introduce the public to area merchants and learn of the services and products they offer in our own backyard.

“This is not just for the chamber,” said Shelley Wright, membership and events manager for the chamber. “This is for the community and we want people to discover and explore with us.”

Highlighting the gold mine of small businesses in Gresham is the mission of the chamber’s Try Local First Committee, which sponsors the event. Created four years ago and spearheaded by Gresham Ford General Manager Bess Wills, the committee focuses on reminding shoppers that buying goods and services from small businesses has a positive impact on the local economy.

“It was really Bess’ baby, to get people to buy local and keep money in the community,” Wright said. “Spending money in Gresham has an indirect and direct benefit to the community — it’s jobs, even the business taxes paid that support our fire and police.”

The committee’s first public campaign was a charm bracelet program, where shoppers could purchase small, silver charms from participating merchants. Each charm represented the services or goods sold by the business.

In return, shoppers also received a coupon toward a future purchase at the store. The program was well received by shoppers, Wright said, many of whom graced the front doors of stores for the first time lured simply by the charms.

“It was very successful in helping people discover local businesses,” she said. “(The charm bracelet program) is still alive and kicking. There are still charms around and we still have about 78 businesses actively participating.”

Try Local Tuesday is another venture to remind shoppers that by supporting small businesses, they are supporting the community.

Judy Wylie, owner of Accent on Attitudes on Northwest Second Street, hosted the chamber’s Tuesday event in early March. She partnered with local entrepreneur Joslyn Feldmann, owner of the Cupcake Queen, to provide refreshments and posted the event to Accent on Attitude’s Facebook page. Wylie also invited her regular customers, encouraging them to bring a friend.

Wylie sees the monthly event as a real boon to small business owners.

“In one and a half hours, we had over 70 people and sales of over $900,” she said. “There are so many little places off the beaten path that people don’t even know are out there. Restaurants, coffee shops, dessert places. That’s the ultimate goal, I think, to let people know we’re here.”

The Local Cow plays host to April Try Local Tuesday from 4:30-6 p.m. today, April 1. Owner Dylan Hutter said the meet-n-greet is a win-win for all the merchants because it increases awareness of the variety of businesses in the area.

“For me, it’s all about getting people to downtown Gresham,” Hutter said. “When they come down here, they see what we all have to offer. It’s a great way to get the word out, especially to the people who don’t know we’re here after two years.”

But Try Local Tuesdays aren’t being limited to the core area of Historic Downtown Gresham, Wright said. Future locations include Coastal Farm and Ranch (in May), followed by Black Cat Cantina in Rockwood in June. The idea, according to Wright, is to remind shoppers they don’t have to wander far for what they need or want.

“There’s something for everybody,” she said. “Just look for the little A-frame sign in front of the business — you’ll know you’re in the right place.”

For more information on Try Local Tuesday, call the chamber at 503-665-1131.