New Merchant’s Group Developing in Lamar


Early photo of LPI Board – Shawna Hodge – Executive Director

The Lamar Chamber of Commerce Retail Trades Committee ceased operation about two years ago.  A new group of business owners interested in forming a similar organization attended a planning meeting Wednesday, January 16, hosted by Shawna Hodge, executive director of Lamar Partnership Inc.   LPI’s Promotion Committee, the marketing branch of LPI, helps organize various retail promotions.  The new group’s goal would be similar to the former Retail Trades Committee, but it would not be connected to the Lamar Chamber of Commerce.   Promotions developed by the as yet unnamed group could be independent of Lamar Chamber events such as Oktoberfest, or it could run concurrent with them. 

Attendees, several of them past members of the Retail Trades group, spoke about the need for mutual support among business owners.  Jennifer Steward of J and N Shoes remarked, “Even if your business is not directly involved with a promotion, everyone should help contribute to make it a success.  We’ll all be able to grow as a business and a town if each of us helps the other.”  It was also noted that the new group of merchants or events should not be restricted to just those located downtown.  Ruthie Esgar of ‘Bettianns’ remarked that since the Chamber moved Lamar Days events to Willow Creek Park, attendance has steadily increased, but there still needs to be some events to attract the public back to local merchants.   County Commissioner, Wendy Buxton-Andrade added that an increased focus should be made on website shopping which expands a local merchant’s customer base.  Joe Shields, the marketing director for Lamar Community College said his department can offer students to conduct various marketing analysis projects to determine shopping profiles and devise marketing plans for local businesses.  Shields added that websites can be created to showcase a host of stores in a community, allowing an internet ‘shopping cart’ approach to future purchases. 

It was generally agreed that general meetings would be held quarterly through the year, but some sub-committees would meet more often as needed to accomplish set goals.  The group decided its first event will be an art display showcasing talent from area schools.  It will coincide with the annual Snow Goose Festival, set for February 21 through the 24th.  Local merchants will contact schools, inviting the art departments to select works from students which will be displayed in the businesses in Lamar during the Festival. 

Hodge closed the meeting saying that a merchant’s database will be developed for future email contacts and announcements of the next meeting.  Call 688-8073 for additional information.

By Russ Baldwin

Filed Under: ArtBusinessChamber/Local BusinesscommunityEconomyEventsFeaturedLamarProwers CountySchoolTourism


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