Local Chapel Hill and Carrboro businesses found a new way to greet new students during the first week of classes this year.
The Chamber For a Greater Chapel Hill-Carrboro, the Carrboro Business Alliance and Chapel Hill Downtown Partnership coordinated with local businesses to build a local deals and discounts campaign from Aug.17 to 25.
Katie Loovis, vice president for external affairs at The Chamber, said the idea of promoting foot traffic in downtown Chapel Hill and Carrboro showed up in the Business Alliance's monthly leadership council meetings. During the discussions, the council decided to narrow its focus to students.
“When we were brainstorming about what might be some ways to attract shoppers and diners, we thought, 'Oh gosh, UNC students,'” Loovis said.
She said the campaign would help to “entice them to come off campus,” and enjoy Franklin Street, Main Street and Carrboro.
Loovis said shopping locally gives people purchasing power and stimulates the local economy. The chamber referenced a study commissioned by American Express that said 67 cents of every dollar spent at a small business remains in the community.
In the past few months, most students were away from campus during summer break, so the amount of available customers for businesses fell. But Loovis recognized the energy the back-to-school crowd has brought to them.
"Obviously, our population in the town of Chapel Hill skyrockets — students make up a big part of that population," she said. "So when they’re gone for the summer, our local businesses feel it, but when they return, it’s a wonderful time.”
For Michelle Temple, retail manager of Caffé Driade and Open Eye Cafe, the deals and discounts campaign has brought some happy air into their space.
“It’s an extra little perk to go somewhere for your first time," Temple said. "Even regulars, people who have been here before, are coming back after their summer break. And they’re happy to be back here and get a little welcome back to Chapel Hill."
Temple also said there is a sustainable relationship between customers, workers, staff and their products’ sources, like farmers. These things add to the community-based experiences residents can have, she said.
The Pizza Press Chapel Hill, another business that participated in the campaign, had a “Buy 1 Pizza, Get 1 Pizza Free with purchase of 2 Beverages” deal.
Andreas Handrinos, general manager for Pizza Press and K-Panns, Inc., said the business hopes to promote itself by attracting first-time customers and students to walk to their location on Franklin Street.
Despite instances of local businesses shutting down, Handrinos said their goal is to work with the right neighbors and become a permanent part of the community.
“You’re here by yourself,” Handrinos said. “You have to do that as a community.”
The back-to-school local deals and discounts campaign is the first of several campaigns to encourage people to shop and dine locally, according to the Chamber’s news release. The next campaign will be the Carrboro Music Festival on Sept. 28 and 29.
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