Focus: Shopping small, shopping local

COVINGTON, Ky. - Covington isn’t a big-box shopping mall kind of place.
One of the City’s strengths and appealing qualities is its eclectic collection of unique, small businesses, with retailers who sell everything from bagels to books and curated home décor to woodcrafts.
To call attention to these local businesses and the personal, “authentic” experience they offer, the City and its partners are taking a number of steps that will culminate in a citywide celebration of Small Business Saturday, the national “holiday” that has come to complement - and in some instances overtake - Black Friday as the Thanksgiving weekend shopping extravaganza.
“It’s the biggest sales day of the year for some of these small businesses,” said Katie Meyer, executive director of Renaissance Covington, a nonprofit working to bring vitality to downtown.
The focus on small businesses this month has several elements:
  • Mini profiles of small businesses on a Shop Small Covington events page created by RCov on Facebook, found HERE.
  • A free workshop on how businesses can use data-focused strategies to increase holiday sales. The workshop - from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Thursday - is the final presentation in the City of Covington’s Lunch & Learn “Grow Your Busine$$” Workshop series. To register and for details, click HERE.
  • A proclamation calling attention to Small Business Saturday, signed by Mayor Joe Meyer.
  • And, of course, Small Business Saturday itself, which will be celebrated citywide from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Nov. 24. 
The downtown “anchor” for the Nov. 24 celebration will be Braxton Brewing Co., where visitors can pick up a Shop Small Tote Bag (while supplies last) and a map of shopping districts and retailers put together by RCov. Braxton will also host a pop-up vendor “market,” mostly from the Covington Farmers Market.
MainStrasse Village
In MainStrasse Village, “COME #SHOPSMALL WITH US” posters in the windows of businesses list the names of 50 different retailers, restaurants, and bars in the tourist and business district.
“The neighborhood really offers so much,” said Reegan Hill, the creator and owner of It’s Only Fair, a fair-trade store whose goods are made mostly by women and low-income artisans in developing countries.
Hill, who is coordinating Small Business Saturday activities in MainStrasse, said the Village is also raffling off a Neighborhood Gift Basket. Visitors receive a raffle “ticket” with each sales receipt from a Village business that they drop off at one of four locations listed on the poster.
“We’re also encouraging people - when they’re finished shopping at the end of the day - to stay in MainStrasse and get something to eat, a cup of coffee or a drink,” Hill said.
In Latonia, a variety of neighborhood businesses are offering discounts, said B. Mocabee, a member of the Latonia Community Council. “We want to rally small businesses and shoppers in our community ... in hopes of energizing the community to support the spots they call home,” she said.
Shoppers can pick up a map and a Shop Small Tote Bag at the Latonia Community Partners Building at 3705 Winston Ave. (near Ritte’s Corner).
At 6 p.m., Latonia will hold a Christmas celebration in parking lot behind the Ritte’s Corner Korean War Memorial.
Winter Bazaar
A week after Small Business Saturday, the City’s artisans and retailers will be further featured at the 4th annual Covington Winter Night Bazaar, held 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Court Street in the Roebling Point District. The outdoor event sponsored by RCov has come to represent a critical and fun part of the holiday shopping season with many thousands of items - all of them handmade and unique by local artists and makers - while guests enjoy the holiday atmosphere with fire pits and hot beverages.
New City investment
The focus on small businesses comes on the heels of the City’s launch of new initiative designed to identify and revitalize a neighborhood business district or node.
Several dozen neighborhood representatives attended an open house last week kicking off The RIPPLE Effect. As part of a competitive process, the City is soliciting plans/proposals from neighborhoods and will pick one on which to focus staff time and public investments in the coming year.
The City is proud of its reputation as the home of “authentic” retailers, City Economic Development Director Tom West said.
“Covington doesn’t have a lot of chains and big boxes, we are known for our homegrown entrepreneurs and unique establishments,” West said. “Buying from small locally-owned businesses is not only about supporting them - the real benefit is the one-of-a-kind merchandise and services they offer.”
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