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Avoid the hustle and bustle: Support local business on Green Friday

HOP ABOARD — Green Friday shoppers may take advantage of free trolley rides throughout the village of Hamburg, on Nov. 29. Photo submitted by Monroe.
HAMBURG — On a day when the masses traditionally crowd into “big box” stores, deal sheets in hand, ready to fight each other for the newest game console or TV, many in Western New York will try a different route and practice what has colloquially become known as Green Friday.

Monroe, of Monroe’s Place in Hamburg, explained that the concept grew from small business owners’ putting their heads together to figure out a way to “keep residents continuing to be excited about doing business locally.”

The Village Business Advisory Council, which grew into a marketing group of small business owners, is sponsoring Green Friday the day after Thanksgiving, Nov. 29, and has invited local shoppers to keep their money in the Hamburg community.

“The green alludes to recycling,” explained Hamburg Village Trustee Laura Hackathorn, encouraging local residents to patronize the businesses in the town and village of Hamburg by “recycling money back into the community.”

Monroe said that the small businesses are currently fighting an uphill battle against the chain and big box stores. “The media drives the public to pass over the little brick and mortars,” she said. “We are manipulated into not supporting little businesses. If you don’t go to the small businesses, they will eventually go.”

The VBAC has a stated goal of encouraging Hamburg’s residents to spend their money in the community and to try to make other Western New Yorkers excited about coming to Hamburg.

“Green Friday came about after someone said, ‘How do we get people to come into our businesses after Black Friday?’” Monroe said. “I say, why wait? We need to bring people in and make the socially conscious person feel embraced. Go back to the old-time way, instead of shouting and screaming.”

Since Green Friday began in Hamburg four years ago, it has grown into a village-wide event in which many local business owners participate. “I would like to see it go everywhere,” Monroe said.

She spoke about the 350-degree Project, a national campaign that asks individuals to choose three local businesses they believe in and to support them, collectively, by spending at least $50 in these stores, per month.

Monroe explained that, for every $100 spent at what she called a “micro-small business,” $68 comes back into the local revenue, as opposed to $42 at a chain store. “That’s a ton of money that’s getting lost,” she said. “I am more conscious now than ever before, about how important small businesses are. When they’re gone, they’re gone. Like dinosaurs.”

The VBAC and the Hamburg Chamber of Commerce have invited the community to “shop the local way, this holiday.”

“The concept behind Green Friday is citizens’ recycling their hard-earned money back into the local economy by supporting local, independently owned businesses,” the team spearheading the endeavor said. “No pushing and shoving to get that over-advertised sale item that everyone is after, but only few will get. No long lines with grumpy cashiers and inexperienced holiday helpers that don’t know their product.”

A free trolly will circulate shoppers through the village shopping areas from 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. Many village stores and restaurants will be open into the evening.

Trolley riders may purchase “VBAC Bucks,” which are gift certificates that can be redeemed in any of the participating VBAC membership businesses. For each buck that is purchased, the buyer will receive a submitted entry to win $100 VBAC Bucks. This contest will end at the close of Green Friday; the winner need not be present.

The first 100 riders onboard the trolley will receive a free reusable shopping bag, filled with local business coupons and special offers. A limited supply will allow only one per family.

More than 30 retailers and seven restaurants will be participating in this local endeavor, and Monroe said that the list is still growing.

“Don’t assume that every small business has a smaller selection or higher prices,” she said. “Sometimes, we might have even more; and we have the same prices.”

Customers will also experience music, entertainment, mimes, dancers, poets and creative performers, “just like the old days of yore,” the VBAC said.

The “Green Passport to Prizes” contest will begin on Green Friday; customers will receive a passport booklet that requires a unique store stamp from each participating location. Full booklets may be turned in for a prize drawing that will be held Dec. 20; several winners will receive prizes and gift certificates.

Give in a different way, by donating blood at the Unyts blood drive bus, which will be located at Monroe’s Place, at 182 Lake St., throughout Green Friday. Donators will receive a gift certificate to Monroe’s Place and hot cocoa from Melanie’s Eats-N-Sweets.

This all-day local shopping event will allow customers to cross off that holiday gift list, while keeping money in the community.

“This was very successful last year,” Hackathorn said, inviting individuals from all over the area to visit Hamburg for its Nov. 29 Green Friday.

For more information about this shop local event, visit www.hamburgvbac.com or call Monroe at 202-4020.
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