Shopping small, shopping local

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The design on RCov's "Shop Small" tote bag available Saturday

Saturday event, City programs focus on Covington businesses

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, a month-plus-long focus on small businesses culminates this weekend with the local celebration of Small Business Saturday, the national “holiday” that has come to complement - and in some cases overtake - Black Friday as THE Thanksgiving weekend shopping extravaganza.
“Saturday is a one-day advertisement for what people who visit Covington know is true year-round - the City is home to an array of neat places to shop, dine and be entertained,” said Nick Wade, executive director of Renaissance Covington, a non-profit working to bring vitality to downtown.
Wade said WiFi data showed 12,000 people came downtown on Small Business Saturday last year to shop and dine, but he expects that number will be greatly eclipsed this year. “Those visitor numbers have been trending upward,” Wade said. “Last weekend, for example, we had more than 22,000 people.”
The focus on small businesses has several elements: 
  • The event Saturday begins at 9 a.m. at Braxton Brewing Co., 27 W. Seventh St., where you can shop at the Covington Farmers Market and pick up a #shopsmall map. The first 200 people who stop by will receive a free "Shop Small"  tote bag full of coupons and promotional items. 
  • A “Shop Small, Win Big” raffle sponsored by RCov will feature a gift basket full of prizes from downtown businesses. Each $10 spent at a Covington business on Saturday will earn shoppers one raffle ticket. Bring your receipts to Braxton by 5 p.m. to redeem. Info, HERE
  • In Latonia, Saturday’s event has two pieces: Anybody stopping by the Latonia Community Partners office at 3705 Winston Highway (near Ritte’s Corner) between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. can get a bag full of promotional items, goodies, and coupons to Latonia businesses, courtesy of Latonia Uptown. Meanwhile, the annual Ritte’s Corner Tree Lighting takes place from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. in the City parking lot behind the Korean War Memorial. The event features refreshments, caroling, and a visit from Santa. (From 2 p.m. to 4 p.m., people can get their pictures taken with Santa and an antique fire truck, weather permitting.) 
  • Mini profiles of small businesses in Covington are being posted daily by Renaissance Covington on its Facebook page, which has the handle @renaissancecovington
  • A proclamation recently issued by Mayor Joe Meyer uses national numbers to talk about the impact of small businesses on local economies. 
  • The upcoming Covington Winter Night Bazaar, a free-admission outdoor market that will feature over two dozen local artists and crafts, plus libations and food, occurs Dec. 7. Info, HERE.
City assistance
Meanwhile, City Hall plans two announcements in early December to benefit small businesses: 
  • One is the newest round of first-year rent grants and façade improvement forgivable loans, which will be announced at the City Commission meeting on Dec. 10. 
  • And two is the beginning of the second “The RIPPLE Effect” competition. That program combines private and public investment - including $300,000 in promised City-funded infrastructure improvements - to jump-start a neighborhood business area outside of the Central Business District. 
The City is proud of its reputation as the home of “authentic” retailers, 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. “When you buy from small, locally-owned businesses, the real benefit is the one-of-a-kind merchandise and services they offer.”
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