Established 1874.

The Oberlin Review

Established 1874.

The Oberlin Review

Established 1874.

The Oberlin Review

Love Local Oberlin Promotion Encourages Shopping Local

Abe Frato
Local businesses are participating in Love Local Oberlin during all of February.

This February, the Oberlin Business Partnership ran an initiative to promote local businesses in the City of Oberlin. Running through Feb. 29, Love Local Oberlin aims to encourage shopping locally with a bingo card game. These bingo cards can be picked up at participating local businesses, and shoppers can fill out their cards by visiting various businesses around town. 

Squares on the bingo cards have items such as “buy a beautiful bouquet from the Carlyle Gift and Flower Shop” and “spoil your date with a Bloody Mary and brunching at The Feve!”  Once completed, these cards can be dropped off at Willow Jewelry and Repair or Ginko Gallery to be entered into weekly drawings for $25 Oberlin gift certificates. Alternatively, they can be turned in to the OBP office in exchange for a free pair of eclipse glasses. 

This is the first time that OBP has run this specific promotion. Sharon Pearson, OBP’s interim executive director, said that she got the idea for the bingo card promotion through researching promotions and initiatives that other organizations similar to OBP do. 

“We’re not expecting [that] people would participate and fill up the whole card,” Pearson said. “Even if they went to one, two, three  businesses, that’s a benefit for that business for them to go in, especially if somebody hasn’t been there and they take advantage of one of those specials. We’re hoping that people just take a look at the card and just consider what the opportunities might be for them.”

Pearson said that this promotion is happening during a time of change at the OBP, representing a shift in its values. 

“The Oberlin Business Partnership is in a rebuilding stage right now,” she said. “We used to be more events-focused. Now we’re trying to be more member-focused, and we’re trying to support our members.” 

Pearson said that no bingo cards have been turned in to OBP yet and that local businesses have reported that the promotion has not been a driving force bringing people into businesses. She said that this is a learning curve as OBP shifts to a member-focused approach. 

“We want to partner with our businesses, but we can’t drag people in,” she said. “We’re trying to provide the opportunity. We’re realizing that maybe when we have these [programs], we need to have an instruction about what we are doing, what we encourage the businesses to do to take advantage of it.” 

Christopher Sarris, retail sales manager of Willow Jewelry and Repair, said that he likes the promotion and what it seeks to bring to the Oberlin community. 

“I love it,” he said. “It’s a little game that Oberlin Business Partnership does when you’re a member, they try to create business or customers for everyone who’s a member and participating in the event. It’s great.” 

Jessa New, OC ’01, Oberlin City Council member and owner of Slow Train Cafe and The Local Coffee & Tea, believes that the promotion will have a positive impact on the community of business owners in Oberlin. 

“Anything that is done to draw the community together and to support the overall structure of small, locally owned businesses benefits all of us,” she said. “There’s that string that’s tying all of us together that in and of itself makes a huge impact in the bigger picture of a community that relies so heavily on small local businesses.”

Sarris said that he has seen an increase in traffic at Willow Jewelry recently, though he said that it is dependent on a variety of factors.

“It just depends,” he said. “Weather permitting, and the [bingo] game that’s going on, we’ve seen some different things going, especially with Valentine’s Day. There’s been a lot of Valentine’s Day traffic this month.” 

New said that she has personally not noticed an increase in business during the promotion so far. However, she believes that Love Local Oberlin has brought the community of locally-owned businesses together and hopes that there will be more things like it in the future. 

“What I hope will come of it is that there will be more things like this that will continue to improve the relationship, not only between customers and retailers in town, but also between the retailers themselves,” she said. “I think when we all join together, the better all of us do, the better overall the town will be economically.” 

Sarris also highlighted the importance of the relationship between customers and businesses. Willow Jewelry and Repair opened in 2021, though the owner has additionally operated another jewelry and repair shop in Elyria for the past two decades. Sarris reported great support for the business from Oberlin and its surrounding communities over the past three years.  

“We’re getting people saying, ‘there’s finally a jeweler in town where we can either purchase or get things repaired,’ or even their watch batteries or watch adjustments,” he said. “Everybody knows each other. It’s great to see people every day and other business owners or employees or everyone waving or trying to help each other out.” 

Pearson said that Love Local Oberlin is just one event that OBP has planned to support its members. She said that the people of Oberlin love Oberlin, and want to support local events and businesses. 

“We’re going to continue to try to do fun things,” she said. “We just want to be innovative, creative, fun, and sometimes things work and sometimes they don’t. But I think that’s the beauty of just putting yourself out there and making an effort.”

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