Small businesses unite to promote ‘Shop not Snow’ campaign

A Kennewick business owner wasn’t too surprised when 60 Tri-City businesses stepped up to participate in a grassroots “shop local’ initiative prompted by Mother Nature’s snowfall.

“I think it’s something that I have seen so many times here — these instances of camaraderie among small businesses,” said Olivia Berg, owner of BlankSpace, a Kennewick event venue. “I’m always so impressed.”

The February blizzard forced the closure of schools, offices and businesses, and it was devastating to many small businesses’ bottom lines, Berg said.

Many Tri-City shops suffered from a “huge drop in sales and foot traffic,” while also being slapped with extra expenses for utilities and snow removal, Berg said.

So she hatched a plan to drum up support for them by launching a weeklong challenge to shop local, called “Shop Not Snow.”

Businesses could sign up for free to participate, but had to agree to donate a $20 gift certificate as a prize for one lucky shopper.

Here’s how it works: Shoppers can pick up a Shop Not Snow card — BlankSpace printed 2,000 of them — and must visit five different participating businesses.  No purchase is required, but it is strongly encouraged, Berg said. Visitors must then collect a signature from the businesses to enter the drawing for $1,200 in gift cards.

Pick up the campaign cards at The Local, a coffee shop inside BlankSpace at 5453 Ridgeline Drive, Suite 140, and at 8530 W. Gage Blvd., Suite E, both in Kennewick.

  “I hope people will really support this movement and patronize these participating businesses,” Berg said. “Someone is going to win over $1,000 in gift cards from local businesses, which is awesome.”

Kurt Stone, manager of Hi-Land Garage in Kennewick, said his auto repair shop is offering a free oil change, valued at $40.

“I thought it was a cool idea. One, I like to support other small businesses in our area, and two, I just think it’s a great way to get free stuff out to people,” he said. “It’s just a good way of advertising, too.”

The snow did affect Hi-Land because people didn’t want to drive in the snow and had to cancel appointments, Stone said. The snow also “slows us down” as employees have to de-ice cars before they can be worked on and maintain the parking lot and driveways.

“It was a lot more work with not as much volume of stuff coming through. I worked half days, from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.,” Stone laughed.

Stone is a fan of supporting local small businesses, too, saying $10 spent in town helps put braces on someone’s kid instead of going into a corporate CEO’s pocket.

Berg said there’s a great diversity of participating businesses in the Shop Not Snow campaign, from clothing stores to restaurants and coffee shops, to wineries.

“The whole purpose is to generate revenue and some fun exposure for those businesses,” she said.

Berg said the snowfall didn’t negatively affect her business, as her customers book the BlankSpace venue months in advance.

But it did mean additional expenses, like extra snow removal costs.

“Our snow removal bill is hundreds and hundreds of dollars in months we have snow like this,” she said.

She said two years ago, it was $800. She hasn’t received February’s bill yet.

“For a small business, it’s a big chunk of change,” she said.

All Shop Not Snow cards must be turned into either location of The Local by March 20 for the prize drawing.

For a list of participating businesses, go to shopnotsnow.com/tc.

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