“Which one do you think we should start with first?” Sarah Riley asks her daughter thoughtfully. They are on the phone with one another, each looking at the same online map from their homes in Smyrna.
Her daughter ruminates a bit before deciding they should start at the east end and work their way west. “It’s so we can get revv’d up,” Sarah laughs as she explains the reasoning to me.
She’s talking about – the secondstop on , which I am here to cover.
The mother-daughter pair is planning to participate in the upcoming Shop Hop – Smyrna’s first such event. It is a competition of sorts: participants visit each stop along its route within a specified time, to be entered to win one of three grand prizes.
“We’re not doing it to win necessarily,” Sarah explains, “Though that would be nice!”
They are shop-hopping, she says, for the fun of it. “You get a reason to visit all your favorite stores, and ones you may not have been to before. You talk to the store owners, get freebies or discounts. Sometimes refreshments. Talk to other shop-hoppers - it’s fun!”
Sarah and her grown daughter have participated in other, similar Shop Hops, but are excited to finally have one in their hometown of Smyrna.
“We’ve done other ones – even ones that are far away. The last one we did was this spring, the Greater Atlanta Quilt Shop Hop. You go to all the quilting shops – 10 of them. But they’re really spread out, from Covington to Marietta. This one is much more doable with all the shops close together,” says Sarah.
Sarah heard about the upcoming Smyrna event from one of her friends, who overheard something about it at “the hardware store,” she reported. That is , which is in fact one of the participating shops.
The event is only now being publicized, so the early word of mouth got Sarah looking online formore information. That led to looking at the map and calling her daughter to see if she was up for joining her.
“We both like to do shop, so I knew she’d say yes,” says Sarah. “Plus it gives us good bonding time. I’m surprised about the hardware store, though,” she says, looking over the list of shops along the two-mile route.
Vickery Hardware may seem an unlikely stop, but it appeals to her nonetheless.
“We go in there all the time, and they have things that aren’t just hardware. It’ll be interesting to see,” she says, after looking over the information section of the shop hop’s website.
Not that purchases at each location are necessary. Participants can, of course, take advantage of specials and giveaways, as well as refreshments along the route without buying anything. The only requirement is that they have their “passports” stamped.
Participants pick up a “passport” at any of the nine participating stores and carry it with them to each stop along the way, getting it “stamped” at each location. When they have completed the passport, they are to turn it in to be entered into a drawing for prizes worth $1,000, $500, and $250. The winners will be announced by Mayor Max Bacon at and concert the night of August 4.
The nine stores sponsoring the Shop Hop are donating the prizes and money.
“We thought it would be a good way to dosomething fun together as local merchants,” said Susan Harlan of Vickery Hardware.
Susan approached the owners of , and first to see if the idea of a Shop Hop appealed to them. It did. They see it as a way to reward their loyal customers, cross-promote their businesses, and get to know one another in the process.
Encouraging people to shop locally is also on the group’s agenda.
“People who want to be ‘green,’ make it a point to shop locally,” explained Susan. “The costs of transportation on roadways is just part of it. We’re glad when people say they want to support their local businesses for that reason and we try to offer products that appeal to them, for helping to live a green lifestyle such as rain barrels that we fix up so you can water your yard with the runoff water from your roof.”
Other people drawn to the the “Shop Local” movement are community members concerned about colors other than green; that is, red, white and blue. U.S. support of local small businesses means investment in its communities. For instance, for every $100 spent in locally-owned independent stores, $68 returns to the community through taxes, payroll and expenditures (as opposed to $48 for chain stores and $0 for online shopping.) Every $1 million spent at local stores creates $321,000 in additional economic activity in the area, according to a study by business research firm Civic Economics.
Which brings us back around to the story of the creation of our local Smyrna Shop Hop. The group of stores participating expanded easily to nine as they planned their event.
“We wanted to keep it down to a reasonable number of places you could visit in a day,” explained Nick Bimmerle of Rev Coffee. “And to include shops that appeal to different kinds of people – like sporting goods as well as gift shops. We hope people who might not otherwise have stopped at our store, but who pass it every day, will come in and get to know us. See what we have to offer. It’s partly commerce but it’s also community-building.”
This community-building event begins Friday, Aug. 3 and ends at 5 p.m. on Saturday Aug. 4.
The dates for Smyrna Shop Hop coincide with Smyrna’s 140th Birthday Celebration Aug. 3 and 4. For more information about how to participate,
see smyrnashophop.blogspot.com or visit one of the following participating shops: