Chamber, local banks surprise shoppers of Bossier businesses on Small Business Saturday

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Citizen National Bank's Nicole Wilhite, far left, and the Bossier Chamber's Jessica Hemingway surprised shoppers at Davis Outdoor in Bossier City Nov. 30. (Courtesy photo)

The Bossier Chamber of Commerce partnered with local banks to surprise shoppers with some holiday cheer last weekend on Small Business Saturday.

This year’s Small Business Saturday, a nation-wide movement that encourages shoppers to support their local stores and restaurants in the wake of Black Friday and ahead of Cyber Monday, was Nov. 30. The Bossier Chamber of Commerce and local bank representatives surprised customers by paying for a portion of their purchase at more than 15 local small businesses in Bossier Parish.

Jessica Hemingway, director of marketing for the Bossier Chamber of Commerce, notes that the community dedicating at least a portion of their gift budget to local stores has a major impact.

“You can have the largest impact on your local economy by shopping small,” she said. “It takes a lot of heart to start a business and these people who take the risk to start their own business are the same people you see every day in the grocery store or gas station. What better way to support your neighbors by taking a chance on them and putting some of your Christmas shopping budget toward a locally-owned, Bossier business this holiday season?”

Gibsland Bank & Trust helped pay for purchases at The Halo Boutique in Haughton on Small Business Saturday. (Courtesy photo)

The Bossier Chamber of Commerce had $700 to go towards the purchases thanks to Citizens National Bank, Community Bank of Louisiana, Gibsland Bank and Trust, and Red River Bank.

Nicole Wilhite with Citizens National Bank was part of the team that surprised shoppers. She said that supporting small businesses is important to the local economy.

“It is important to our local economy to support our local small business. As a community bank, a good portion of our customers are local businesses that are plugged into our community, so we do life with them — the owners have kids that go to school with our kids, they go to church with you, eat and shop where we do — and develop relationships with them,” Wilhite said. “Their successes are the community’s successes too. The more we can be involved and support them, the better it is for all of us.”

She was happy that Citizens National Bank was part of the surprise party and she was able to take part as an officer of the bank and also a board member for the Bossier Chamber.  

“I loved the interactions with the customers and business owners and employees. We are looking forward to participating next year and hope it is much bigger and better. For the first year, it was definitely a success,” Wilhite enthused.

Business owners whose businesses were chosen to be a part of this first time surprise event echoed Wilhite’s remarks on the importance of customers supporting a small local business.

Brittney Copeland, owner of The Frilly Magnolia Boutique in Benton, said this outreach showed a simple act of kindness to not only herself, but to her customers.

“As a business owner I appreciated them doing something for my customer. It’s usually me doing that for them. It was so nice to see that somebody else was putting some initiative behind the shop small movement,” Copeland said. “That’s a big deal, including for us little guys. We can’t contribute as some of the big wigs in town. So, the fact that they literally took time out of their own personal shopping experience to do something kind for our customers, that’s a very big deal for me.”

Lorri Harris, owner of Cafe USA in south Bossier, said the outreach effort showed small local businesses how appreciated they are.

“Them coming to my business made me feel so blessed and appreciated. Thank you very much for your active participation in local small businesses and helping keep us in the game,” said Harris.
Luna Karkar, owner of Halo Boutique in Haugton, said when the community shops small, money is put back back into the same community that the shoppers and their families live in.

“Thank you for supporting small businesses. It really brings awareness to shopping local. When you shop local you are putting money back into the community that you live and supporting local families. It was was nice for someone higher up in the community to bring awareness to shopping small,” said Karkar.