Local economies drive efforts for holiday sales - WMBFNews.com, Myrtle Beach/Florence SC, Weather

Local economies drive efforts for holiday sales

Glass ornaments made at downtown Conway shop, Conway Glass. Glass ornaments made at downtown Conway shop, Conway Glass.

CONWAY, SC (WMBF) - Efforts to drive local shopping this holiday season continue in downtown Conway.

Christmas is less than one week away, which is prime time for last minute shoppers. City Leaders and business owners say that there's been a surge of local support this holiday season, and they want to keep that momentum going.

This weekend is going to be full of the hustle and bustle of last-minute shoppers. The group Downtown Conway Alive is helping make an extra push to encourage shopping local all year round, but especially during the holidays. They've seen great success with the holiday event Rivertown Christmas. Every Thursday during the month of December, shops stayed open later and store owners had treats and drinks for shoppers. Santa was in town each week to take pictures. And visitors could listen to music and take carriage rides, as well Business owners say that atmosphere is really helping to boost business.

"I think people are just getting to the point where if they invest in their communities, that's what makes a good community,” says Sheila Walberg-O'Neil, the owner of 3rd Avenue Home. “If you're always just shopping at a box store and you don't bother to say 'Hi!' to your neighbors or check on people, it just falls apart. And people want to get back to feeling good about where they're at."

This year they've seen significantly more shoppers and visitors to the area in comparison to years past. And most of the shoppers have said they had no idea this store or that restaurant was even in Conway, and they can't wait to stop by again. That is exactly what the city is going for.

“That's where your community is. All these people live here. The money stays here. I mean, that's what it's all about,” says Wlberg-O'Niel.

And it's not just in Conway. If the unique gifts and fun atmosphere wasn't enticing enough, cities across the Grand Strand and Pee Dee are throwing out big incentives to get you shopping. In Myrtle Beach, the Chamber of Commerce had a gift card contest to encourage folks to shop locally. You had to show receipts totaling $150 in local purchases and you could win a $250 gift card for it. This year, the city had over one-thousand entries - the most they've ever seen. Leaders say that shows a good number of people are keeping their dollars local this holiday season. And there are still plenty of discounts you can take advantage at for local Myrtle Beach stores.

The Darlington Downtown Revitalization Association is also throwing a gift card contest for showing your local receipts. And Florence just recently started a new initiative called "Go Flo." Their downtown stores are extending hours and they're encouraging shoppers to use the hasghtag #GoFlo to share your unique finds.

“Shopping locally, I mean you don't have to be an economist to know that it's supply and demand. If you demand cheap, mass-produced items, then there's where all your jobs and your community goes,” says Walberg-O'Niel.

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