In previous posts we have documented multiple reasons why supporting locally owned and operated businesses is essential for a community to flourish and be a vibrant place to live and work – but these businesses are also what make communities a great place to visit.
In our increasingly homogenous society where the same big box retailers, large discount chains, and franchise restaurants exist from one town to the next, more and more travelers are seeking destinations that embrace their unique locally owned and operated businesses, offering visitors a one-of-a -kind experience that includes a diverse blend of shops and eateries spanning every price point.
Recognizing this tourism trend, many cities and towns seeking to improve their economies are having success capitalizing on marketing their business district’s unique culture, charm, hospitality, and diversified product lines as an alternative to today’s cookie cutter shopping malls.
Also, unique destinations that embrace their locally owned and operated businesses not only attract visitors, but often get them to come back – sometimes even for good as talented residents or entrepreneurs ready to invest in a community willing to invest in them.
Has your most memorable vacation ever included…
- Finding that unexpected treasure at the little corner boutique where the owner personally helped you?
- Eating breakfast at the locals’ favorite greasy spoon and getting helpful recommendations for the rest of your visit along with your eggs and bacon?
- Tasting a new variety of wine at the local winery or craft beer at the local microbrewery?
- Purchasing artwork from the local art gallery where you got to meet the artist in person?
- Enjoying a sunset kayak tour with your family at the local park?
- Devouring a dinner complete with locally grown fresh produce and seafood caught that very morning?
- Sleeping like a baby under a plush down comforter at the quaint B&B owned by the same family for three generations?
Do any of these experiences sound like something offered in your hometown?
So, the next time you’re showing support to a locally owned and operated business, remember that you’re not only making your town a great place to live, but a great one to visit, and helping it grow and prosper!
Warmer weather can often bring a shopping list for the season ahead. Think about it – with Mother’s Day, graduations, wedding season, wardrobes shifting and landscape sprucing to be done, spring is a great time to get some shopping done and most of what you need can be found right in your hometown. Every day is a great day to support local retailers, though we’ll admit our favorite day to do so is Shop Local Day – which is why we couldn’t be more excited to announce that the fourth installment of Shop Local Day is coming up on May 3, 2014.
If our fall Shop Local Day is a sign of what’s ahead, there will be plenty of local places to shop and bargains to be had – over 300 merchants participated in the fall from areas across the Northern Neck, Middle Peninsula and Greater Williamsburg. Merchants will be able to start registering beginning in early March, so stay tuned for a merchant offer list in the coming weeks.
The Shop Local Day initiative was developed in 2012 in partnership with local merchants and Chambers of Commerce in our markets. One of our blog posts from last year, “Need a Reason to Shop Local? We Have Five” highlights some of the reasons why shopping local is such a good idea – and so important to the community. Also, Local businesses support the community all year long, whether it’s sponsoring a charity event or helping with a fundraiser for a church group or an athletic team. Shop Local Day, along with every other day of the year, is a good time to support the local businesses that have supported you.
Check back often to see what will be available this next Shop Local Day. In the meantime – save the date on your calendar!
The official start of spring is a little over a month away – close enough that daydreaming about warmer weather and outdoor fun can begin to turn into actual planning for a day trip or vacation. If you want to have fun and keep it pretty simple at the same time, why don’t you think about a staycation?
Defined by Merriam-Webster as a vacation spent at home or nearby, staycations have gained popularity in recent years as a way to relax and refresh but at the same time spend less money than you might on a traditional getaway. Below, find just a sampling of the many worthwhile activities happening right in the neck of your woods in coming months.
What to do:
- The Northern Neck Wine Tasting Festival is coming up Saturday, April 19. Ten local wineries will be on the grounds behind Rice’s Hotel/Hughlett’s Tavern in Heathsville, VA from 11 a.m. – 4 p.m. Tickets are $12 a person.
- Just Gardens 2014 is coming up May 16 and 17. The tour of gardens will benefit The Haven Shelter & Services, Inc. and highlight 5 gardens in Essex County. Advance tickets are $15 and tickets purchased day of are $20.
If you want to really feel disconnected while still staying close to home, considering trying out a local inn or bed and breakfast. Take a look at some of the places around town where you could tuck in for the night.
Where to stay:
- The Hope & Glory Inn is a great place to stay in Irvington. In 2012, it was named one of the top 10 coastal inns in the United States by Coastal Living magazine!
Tell us, have you ever taken a staycation? What was your favorite part?
The 2nd Annual Hands Together Historic Triangle Event is a one day resource fair in Williamsburg that offers access to many services in one place to local families in need. This year’s event is coming up on Monday, February 24 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Chesapeake Bank is a sponsor for the event.
Two of Chesapeake Bank’s own employees, Sam Poole and Denise Kent, have involvement that stems back to the beginning of this beneficial community event. Poole and Kent were involved with creating this event last year as a part of The Greater Williamsburg Chamber & Tourism Alliance’s LEAD Historic Class of 2013. The class saw an opportunity to serve the homeless and precariously housed in the Historical Triangle.
This year’s resource fair will be held at Quarterpath Recreation Center off Page Street and Route 60. People in need of social services, housing services and help from non-profit agencies will find value in coming to the event and having so many community resources in one location. Guests will receive numerous services including medical, vision and dental checks, haircuts, bike repairs and notary services. Each guest will receive commissary credits that can be used to purchase, complete free of charge, food, clothing and household items they are in need of.
Volunteers are needed! For more information on how you can help with this important community event, visit this link. If you don’t have time, but would still like to help out, please download this Donation Needs List.
When the temperature goes down, our energy use and heating bill goes up. According to the US Department of Energy, heating and cooling accounts for the largest energy expense in most homes. But, making a few simple adjustments around the house can help keep temperatures up and costs down.
So whether you want to ease your impact on the planet or save a few bucks, using less energy can help you do both.
Here are 5 quick tips to reduce energy consumption while keeping your home comfy:
1- Turn down the thermostat – You can easily save energy in the winter months by turning your thermostat back while you’re asleep or away from home. By turning the temperature down 10-15° for eight hours, you can save 5 to 15% a year on your heating bill.
2- Lower the temperature on your water heater– Water heating is the second largest energy expense in your home, typically accounting for about 18% of your utility bill. Turn down the temperature of your water heater and save 3-5% for every 10 degrees of setback.
3- Use the sun – Open the curtains on your south-facing windows during the day to let the sun warm up rooms, and close them when the sun goes down to help keep heat inside.
4- Only heat rooms you use – If you have rooms you never use, like large storage areas or guest rooms, close the door and seal off the vents in those rooms. This directs air flow to the rooms you use the most, increasing energy efficiency, and could reduce heating costs up to 25%.
5- Keep heating systems clean – A dirty furnace will slow down air flow and make the whole system work harder to keep you warm. Replace filters at least once a month during heavy heating or cooling season. Monthly replacement of furnace filters can save as much as 5% on heating bills according to the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy.
What other tips and tricks do you use to stay without breaking the bank when cold weather sets in?
Bowl for Kids’ Sake, the largest annual fundraising campaign for Big Brothers Big Sisters, is coming up in February. Big Brothers Big Sisters is the nation’s largest donor and volunteer supported mentoring network. The organization makes meaningful, monitored matches between adult volunteers and children. You can learn more about the work of Big Brothers Big Sisters through their website here.
Williamsburg branches of Chesapeake Bank have participated in Bowl for Kids’ Sake for a number of years, and they are joining the cause again this year. Three branches (Five Forks, Lightfoot and Lafayette) are challenging each other to see which branch can raise the most funds for the campaign. The branches are raising money through different activities, from bake sales to mini bowling set up within a branch location.
“The youth of today are our future,” said Donna Mitchell, branch manager at our Lafayette Street location. “Big Brothers Big Sisters gets kids involved with positive activities at a young age, and it’s a great organization to support.”
All of the participating branches get to feel good about supporting the community, and the branch that raises the most will get a prize – and most importantly, bragging rights!
The holiday season has come and gone. Here at Chesapeake Bank, we celebrated with delicious food, time with family and friends and gifts from local retailers. Speaking of presents, The National Retail Federation has reported that holiday sales increased by 3.8 percent this year.
This TIME.com article discusses 10 consumer trends from this 2013 shopping season, including everything from shopping kicking off even earlier than normal this year and there being no “it” toy that made it on every child’s list.
The article doesn’t discuss one thing we want to hear about, though. How did you Shop Local this holiday season? What was the best local item you gave or received, and where did you find it?
We’d love to hear about your experiences from this holiday season in the comments below.
Most of us make New Year’s resolutions; lose weight, quit smoking, eat better. While these are great resolutions, how many of us make resolutions that affect personal finance decisions? We’ve put together three great finance resolutions with some resources to help you accomplish (and maintain) them in 2014.
- Get more organized: We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again – the first step to getting control over your finances is getting organized. Find a system that works for you; whether it’s utilizing an expandable file folder or tracking expenses or managing budgets on your computer software of choice. Schedule a weekly or monthly time to document your spending.
- Make more strategic purchases/donations: When planning your budget, get the most out of your charitable giving. Do you know what is deductible on your taxes when it comes to charitable giving? This article answers a lot of those questions.
- Seek help when needed: Whether it be filing your taxes or making decisions about your 401(k), retirement or other major financial decisions, consult with the experts when things get lost in translation. Your bank account will thank you.
Whether you’ve been done with your holiday shopping for months, have just a few gifts left to buy or haven’t even started your shopping yet, it’s always a perfect time to add a few local items to the line-up of gifts you will be giving this year.
Shopping local this holiday seasons means you’ll find something for everyone on your list and support local businesses at the same time. Gift possibilities ranging from jewelry to flowers to food to clothes – and that’s only the beginning. Below you’ll find a list of retailers that are just a stone’s throw away.
Massage Movement and Therapy (Website)
Oasis Books (Website)
Schmidt’s Flowers & Accessories (Website)
Williamsburg Winery (Website)
Bay & River Home Décor (Facebook page)
Country Cottage (Website)
Dilly Dally Emporium (Facebook page)
Tatterson Greenhouses (Website)
River Birch Gifts (Facebook page)
Wilton Cottage & Garden (Website)
For a list of additional merchants, check out the blog. Even though Shop Local Day is over, some of the merchants have offers good through the end of the year!
What local presents are you giving this year? Tell us about them in the comments below!
It’s the holiday season once again, and this year, thanks to Thanksgivukkah, it seems as if the pressure is on. Whether it’s a family dinner or a more causal holiday celebration, be sure to celebrate, not commiserate the occasion.
It may be obvious, but according to HGTV, when it comes to hosting the perfect holiday gathering, plan ahead and create to-do lists to keep you organized. You don’t have to do everything the day of a holiday gathering. Prepare dishes in advance and delegate tasks to other family members and friends. Also along the lines of preparedness, anticipate needs that may come up during the party and be ready for them (like having extra toilet paper in bathrooms and having trash bags ready to go).
Entertaining doesn’t have to break the bank. When it comes to the bar, have a simple selection of beer and wine, but decide on a signature cocktail and have it mixed up and ready to serve. This eliminates the need for having several spirits and mixers on hand. You can also cut costs by shopping smartly for décor. Just because there is a holiday theme, you don’t need to buy the holiday-specific décor. Instead of heading to the aisle that has holiday materials, head to the general section and get solid colors, which are sometimes cheaper than marked up holiday items.
Is the party over, but people are still hanging out? Ease them out the door by breaking out coffee and tea. Hopefully the end of the night beverages will cue them to head home.
What are some of your tips for holiday hosting success?