Plan promotes ‘Best of Brookhaven’

Published 5:00 am Thursday, July 9, 2009

Specialty business owners in Brookhaven are banding together toform a coalition that will not only help drive foot traffic intotheir own businesses, but also other ones.

The Brookhaven-Lincoln County Chamber of Commerce and several ofits specialty gift retail members held a meeting Thursday morningto kick off a new incentive program that will encourage shoppers tospend money locally.

Chamber President Stan Foster addressed the group of storeowners and told them they had all indicated what would help theirbusiness the most was to have more shoppers.

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“You told us if we can just bring you the traffic, you can makethe sales,” he said. “So we’ve come up with the ‘Best ofBrookhaven’ program to help increase the traffic and allow smallbusinesses to leverage themselves.”

Under the program, which encourages loyalty shopping from localcustomers, a consumer makes $25 in purchases from each of any fiveparticipating merchants and is given a keychain that recognizesthem as a loyal shopper. Then stores provide monthly promotionsonly available to those customers with the “Best of Brookhaven”keychain.

“Our specialty stores are all destination shops,” saidExpectations owner Angie Warren. “We can share our customer baselist with each other … This gets our loyal customers who haveshopped with us not only back in the stores they’re shopping innow, but into other stores too.”

The group discussed possible seasonal promotions as a shoppingdraw, and having customers fill out information sheets so they canbe sent e-mails about specials and sales.

Meanwhile, stores that are members of the chamber of commercecan commit to be a part of the program for $500, which providesthem with T-shirts for employees, a decal to go in the window, asupply of keychains and an advertising package with local mediaoutlets.

The group will meet again July 30 to discuss an attack plan, butThursday’s meeting was to allow business owners to commit to theprogram if they were interested. But once the project gets off theground, business owners will get together to discuss further plansand strategies.

Chamber of Commerce Executive Vice President Cliff Brumfieldsaid the thought process behind the venture is a pioneer programthat other communities across the state will recognize as adesirable plan for their own cities and towns.

“Our Mississippi Scholars program is number one in the countryright now, and we’re taking the same leadership role with thisprogram that we have with Mississippi Scholars,” Brumfieldsaid.

Chamber leaders encouraged the business owners to becomeinvolved with the program, pointing out that it puts them in theposition to help guide the future of the shopping industry inBrookhaven.

“This is the committee that can help shape that,” Brumfieldsaid. “We are the specialty retail capital of SouthwestMississippi. I think becoming a part of this and participating inthe program is a great opportunity for any business.”

And Warren said it’s a positive move that small business ownerscan make during tough economic times.

“Instead of playing our violins and feeling sorry for ourselvesin a down economy, let’s do this and make a difference,” shesaid.