Thank you to The Daily Advance for the article.
Pam Payne and her mother Pearl Sanders set out on an odyssey of sorts. They managed to complete the vast majority of their Christmas shopping in downtown Elizabeth City, with local merchants, instead of relying on national chain stores and the Internet.
Payne is on the board of Elizabeth City Downtown, Inc. She says they had been discussing ways to get more people to shop downtown and so she was inspired to do all of her shopping downtown this year.
She says this was not a publicity stunt; it was simply a decision to support local businesses. In fact, Payne and her mother set out to do their shopping under the radar, and were only found out when a local merchant bragged about the effort.
“Nobody on the board knew I was going to do this,” says Payne.
Payne, who grew up in Elizabeth City, says when she and other board members were decorating the Virginia Arcade for the Downtown Illumination celebration, she recalled growing up here. She recalled a time when the Arcade was bustling with shops and department stores such as Belk and J.C. Penny’s were located downtown.
It was a time when people migrated to the waterfront business district to do most of their shopping.
“It was very busy,” she says, adding that she was fondly recalling the way it used to be, “and wondering what we could find.”
When Payne and her mother set out, they were armed with a Christmas list. Payne’s aunt, who lives out of state, had said she would like a cooking smock for Christmas. Payne says neither she nor her mother could find one until they stopped in at the dime store on Main Street.
Payne says her mother was also on the look out for a pair of children’s shoes and also found those in the dime store.
“It’s absolutely amazing what’s in there,” she says.
The pair also made their way into In-Stitches for a number of gifts, Selig’s Jewelry, Chesson’s, Arts of the Albemarle, the Museum of the Albemarle Shop — “They had something in there I’ve been looking for, for years.” — Page After Page Bookstore and she even instructed her husband Donald to head over to Shay Leslie’s Boutique to do a little shopping as well.
“The goal was to buy for everybody on the list downtown,” says Payne.
Payne says her downtown shopping adventure went well and all of the prices were very reasonable. She says there is no reason a person can’t shop downtown and expect fair prices.
And shopping downtown helps keep the local economy afloat. Page After Page owner Susan Hinkle is a big “shop locally” advocate. She is involved with a number of organizations that promotes the idea of shopping in independently owned stores and has said that a breakdown of money shows that someone like Payne keeps more money in the community for the benefit of the region.
According to Hinkle’s figures, if you spend $25, of that $13.75 will stay in the community if you shop at a local, independently owned business; only $3.90 cents stays in the community if you spend the same amount at a chain or big box store; no money stays in the community if you shop on the Internet.
Payne says this experience has convinced her to do more shopping downtown. She says she will certainly shop downtown next Christmas and encourages more people to do the same.
“If we don’t save downtown and support them, we lose our character,” says Payne.
Read globally but buy from your local indie SIBA-member bookstore and keep more revenue in your community.