PUTNAM POSTING: Paying It Forward

Jennifer Maher | December 10, 2020

Jennifer Maher

For seven consecutive Small Business Saturdays, Putnam County Executive MaryEllen Odell and I visited five to six businesses countywide to shop and promote Putnam County retail in one day. Normally we would take pics and post, doing our best to get the word out.

This year was a little different. Since MaryEllen was visiting family, she was unable to join us. To fill her giant shoes, this year I was joined by other Chamber leaders and elected officials: Putnam County Legislators Amy Sayegh; Bill Gouldman and Nancy Montgomery; State Assemblyman Kevin Byrne; Henry Boyd, Carmel/ Kent Chamber; Bill Nulk of the Business Council (PCBC); Jason Kormes of the Putnam Valley Business Network and Jackie Annabi of the Putnam Valley Town Board, as well as New York State Senator Sue Serino’s office.

We decided to go big and transform our visits into three days of tours, stopping at 14 stores, plus a few restaurants we dined at along the way. The three days of photos and videos will be turned into a winter-long campaign promoting Putnam County retail. We will run this alongside our restaurant promotion through January.

To help fund the promotion the Putnam Chamber again ran a membership promo. Retailers that joined at any level up to our Executive Level (up to $295), would become a PCBC member, be included in this Holiday/Winter promotion PLUS another event planned in 2021. This drive raised the money to cover the video production and advertising.

Just like the response to our restaurant promotion, people decided they wanted to step up and support Putnam County Businesses. The Carmel/ Kent Chamber of Commerce sponsored four businesses, Putnam Valley Business Network Supported two, Kent Countryside Nursery and Landscaping joined and sponsored two, the Carmel Flower Shop who was sponsored, paid it forward and sponsored one.

Gratitude, generosity and camaraderie were the themes of this year’s Small Business campaign. Everyone we visited had a whole different take on business and life than in years prior. Business owners seemed cautiously optimistic, reflecting recent news reports. According to CNBC, “The National Retail Federation expects 2020 holiday sales to rise between 3.6% and 5.2% year over year, amounting to between $755.3 billion and $766.7 billion.” NRF President and CEO Matt Shay said he expects the industry could have a “strong finish” to 2020, in spite of the challenges from the coronavirus pandemic. Americans have more money to spend that they were previously using on things like travel, NRF said, “while there is also renewed hope for the distribution of an effective COVID vaccine.”

Retail stores have made arrangements for safer shopping, either from home or curbside pickup. The secret to success is to be “top of mind” to your community. People have more time and (according to CNBC) more money to shop locally, so they need to know where to go for the items they desire. Our promotion is aimed to jumpstart the holiday season and get people thinking of how they can shop local before they hit Amazon. Together we can be the heroes of our own local economy.

Jennifer Maher
Jennifer Maher is chairwoman, the Putnam County Business Council and currently serves as the president of the Putnam/Westchester Chapter of the New York State Commercial Association of Realtors. She is also the Chief Operating Officer, Managing Broker and Partner of J. Philip Real Estate.