Think Local: Why It’s Extra Important This Year

This story originally appeared in the Fall 2020 Thriving Magazine and was written by Tony Gorick, Creative Services Manager at the Lancaster Chamber. Read the entire Thriving Magazine online here.

Cover photo is of assorted gifts at Ellicott & Co., a shop downtown Lancaster.

In Lancaster County, we have a strong community that prides itself on “thinking local.” From attending local productions, to buying gifts in shops around the County, we have been known to be fiercely loyal to Lancaster and its sustainable success.

Now, more than ever, we need to collectively showcase that spirit of supporting local as we continue to navigate a challenging year and economic landscape. With COVID-19 and an unknown future, it’s crucial that right now we support local businesses, source local services, and invest in Lancaster County as we head into the holiday season and 2021.

Emily Drobnock, owner of Knock Knock Boutique – featuring a variety of accessories from her shop

SHOP LOCAL: HOLIDAYS ON THE HORIZON

“Lancaster County has a wealth of small businesses and restaurants that need the support of the local community this holiday season due to the temporary closures that many Pennsylvania businesses experienced in March through May,” says Lisa Horn, Director of Fun at Kitchen Kettle Village. “Plus, who doesn’t want to give a fabulous gift crafted in Lancaster?”

As the holiday season ramps up, it’s even more critical to support local with so many setbacks businesses have experienced this year due to the unprecedented global pandemic. And because of added safety precautions, destinations, shops, and restaurants had to reinvent some of what they offer.

“We have changed our holiday events that included a large dinner or breakfast to be more self-guided experiences that still involve food and holiday fun while keeping people away from a large group gathering,” adds Lisa. “We have also added multiple ways that people can shop with us – more focus on online shopping, offering contactless pick-up and promoting more specific gift items on Facebook.”

The team at Kitchen Kettle is also quickly preparing items for unique holiday gifts.

Jams, rubs, sauces, and more, at Kitchen Kettle Village

“We are going to be offering a great variety of gift packages that we will have available in the Jam & Relish Kitchen and online at shopkitchenkettle. com,” says Lisa. “Food is always a great gift, but this year more than ever it promotes comfort and is an essential item that people will use and enjoy.”

Kitchen Kettle is not the only business to shift. Knock Knock Boutique, a gift and accessory shop in Elizabethtown, has had to reposition how to sell during this challenging time.

“During the quarantine, we shifted our entire website and offered almost all inventory for purchase online,” says Emily Drobnock, owner of Knock Knock Boutique. “Shopping online helps to accommodate those who do not feel comfortable shopping in person yet, or those who do not live nearby.”

Emily also emphasizes the need to support local, and the encouragement she sees from the community.

“I encourage everyone reading this to find a new local business to love and support this season,” says Emily. “Shopkeeps really do pour their hearts and souls into their businesses, and I think patrons will see and understand that just by walking in the door. I love the passion I’ve seen over the last six-to-nine months that people have shown to local businesses and I hope that continues.”

Ryan Martin, Co-Owner of Ellicott & Co., a curated shop of gifts and goods in downtown Lancaster, echoes both Lisa and Emily in calling for shoppers to choose local this season.

“When you shop at local boutiques like ours, your dollars stay in this community and allow us to support dozens of makers who also call Lancaster home,” says Ryan. “Without the support of such an incredible local clientele, we wouldn’t have survived these last several months.”

During quarantine, the Ellicott & Co. team had to think quickly.

“Our store depends on foot traffic and during a time where our doors remained closed, our loyal customers took to our website and supported us,” adds Ryan. “We found new ways to engage our customers through free local delivery, curbside pickup and private shopping experiences.” Ryan is looking forward to the holiday season — a time where their assortment of uncommon goods offers great gift options.

“Our shop provides a place for many local artisans and makers to begin the transition from hobbyist, to business owner,” says Ryan. “We have strived to provide a diverse selection of high-quality goods, that are selected for their craftsmanship, and their commitment to sustainable manufacturing.”

In addition to shopping experiences, another huge industry that was impacted during the global pandemic was restaurants, and especially those that rely on catering events.

Harvest Moon Bagel, a bagel (and more) shop in downtown Lancaster, relies on both foot traffic and catering — and the latter is primed for the holidays.

Bagels from Harvest Moon

“Our food holds a lot of memories of big bagel brunches with extended family and friends around the holidays,” says Chelsea Zawisa, Owner of Harvest Moon Bagel Co. “At a time when many holiday get-togethers may be smaller and some extended family might be missing from festivities, our food and traditions will bring us comfort. We’re here to help and invite you to become a part of our tradition.”

Chelsea also notes how local support is critical.

“Customers who frequent our small business are putting their money right back into their own community,” says Chelsea. “Because we as a business are conscious of sourcing our ingredients and products locally, you’re not just supporting one local business but many.”

Common Wheel, an organization at the Alternative Gift Fair

GIVING BACK: NONPROFITS NEED HELP MORE THAN EVER

Many businesses have been negatively impacted by COVID-19 and the variety of shutdowns over the year, but nonprofits have also experienced huge losses due to the pandemic. Nonprofits often rely on large galas and fundraisers to sustain their missions, which makes supporting these organizations even more critical at a time where accessing them is more challenging.

Jenn Knepper, coordinator of the Gifts that Give Hope (an annual gift fair that features a variety of local nonprofit organizations), shares how they are transforming to make the event virtual for safety while also ensuring people can still support important nonprofits.

“The virtual gift fair provides a fairly easy avenue for people looking to support local nonprofits and give gifts that make a difference,” says Jenn. “This virtual gift fair provides a great avenue to come together from all ends of the earth to support efforts on issues that don’t take a break from pandemics, in fact, they’re often exacerbated. People can donate to these nonprofits and help provide food for the unemployed, housing assistance for people facing homelessness, microfinance loans around the world for those in extreme poverty, supportive services for families with a member with an intellectual disability, medical care for those with chronic health problems, supportive services for adoptive families and for children with chronic health problems, and much more.”

The 2020 Virtual Gifts That Give Hope fair will be an all day event on Saturday, December 5 from 10am-4pm. People can access the site, at www.giftsthatgivehope.org/lancaster, from anywhere and easily donate to more than 30 nonprofits and purchase gifts that are ethically or sustainably sourced.

In addition to the fair, another large event that benefits Lancaster County nonprofits has gone virtual. One of the largest County-wide events of the year, the ExtraordinaryGive (read more about that event here), has made the switch to virtual but will continue its exciting tradition of supporting hundreds of nonprofits making our community better.

2021 OUTLOOK: WHAT’S NEXT?

In a year of uncertainties, and with the unknowns that 2021 may hold, one thing is for certain: “thinking local” is more important now than ever. Whether you’re shopping for gifts, needing catering for a family gathering, ordering out one night for dinner, donating to a nonprofit, or contracting a service for your home, investing in local companies is critical to our County’s economic success. Collectively, we can “think local” and make a big difference as we move forward — together.