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Holiday shopping in St. John is a present to parish

LAPLACE — With more than 2,000 options available, pledging to shop at one locally owned St. John the Baptist Parish business this holiday season is a small task with a big reward, according to David Lee Boutique owner Shirah Ray.

Ray, an American Express Small Business Champion, teamed up with St. John Parish Economic Development and local business owners Thursday morning to kick off Shop Local Shop St. John 2018.

The annual campaign started in 2012 to promote financial benefits of shopping local, including keeping tax dollars in the parish to fund services for residents and business owners.

According to former Economic Development Director Jerry W. Jones, every $100 spent inside independent St. John Parish businesses keeps $68 in the Parish, while $100 spent at big box retailers retains only $43 for the New Orleans region. Increasingly popular online shopping options don’t present any economic benefit to St. John Parish, local officials said.

Attending the Shop Local event were Jean Stewart, from left, Wayne Vicknair, Robert Tamplain and Shirah Ray.

Ray is passionate about promoting Small Business Saturday, observed Nov. 24 this year in St. John Parish and across the nation.

“A lot of businesses have been closing the Saturday after Black Friday because of all the competition from the big box retailers,” Ray said. “That’s something we want to change.”

Shop Small signage can be obtained from Ray at David Lee Boutique, located at 1900 U.S. 51 Suite C.

On Nov. 24, Ray is offering champagne, gift card giveaways, a small business pop-up shop and in-store savings.

While Small Business Saturday is one day, Ray said Shop Local Shop St. John extends through the end of December.

“I think the Shop Local campaign does make a difference, but we can continue to give it a stronger presence,” Ray said.

Starting the last week of November, St. John Parish residents will receive trivia games in the mail containing questions about local businesses.

Those who answer correctly will be entered in a drawing to win gift cards, baskets and other prizes from local businesses.

Completed trivia games can be mailed in or dropped off prior to Dec. 30 at the Percy Hebert Building, 1801 Airline Highway in LaPlace, or at the St. John Parish Courthouse, 2393 Highway 18 in Edgard.

Stakeholders and supporters gather for the Shop Local kick off in LaPlace.

A small crowd gathered at David Lee Boutique Thursday reflected on the storefronts that build St. John Parish culture.

Robert Tamplain, sales manager for Bayou Ford, said he grew up on Don’s Country Store sausage.

St. John Parish communications director Baileigh Rebowe Helm loves the unique holiday gifts and wrapping services at Roussel’s Fine Jewelry & Gifts, and Evin Stein of the economic development committee said he’d do anything to keep El Mexicano open because it’s where he found love.

While Wayne Vicknair’s Advanced Marketing & Promotions print shop isn’t a retail destination, he said it’s important to support Shop Local because small business owners drive 80 percent of their business.

“It’s about advertising for those guys who come to us,” Vicknair said. “They could’ve gone to Office Depot, a national company, but they come to us and support us. We’re supporting each other.”

Businesses can register to be part of the campaign at no cost at sjbparish.com/shoplocal.

To access a directory of participating businesses or to learn more about the benefits of Shop Local Shop St. John, visit stjohneconomicdevelopment.com.