Event encourages people to support MarMac’s small businesses

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By Audrey Posten, North Iowa Times Editor

Residents and visitors alike are encouraged to support the small, local businesses in McGregor and Marquette as they shop for gifts this holiday season—beginning with Small Business Saturday, Nov. 25.

Twenty-six businesses, ranging from retail stores to bars and restaurants, will participate in a “Shop Small MarMac” event on Saturday, offering activities, refreshments and special shopping deals. The event will begin at 10 a.m. and run through 3 p.m., although many establishments will be open later.

The Small Business Saturday concept was first launched in 2010 by American Express, serving as an alternative to the major shopping days following Thanksgiving: Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

McGregor and Marquette businesses began marking the date with a special event two years ago. Participation has grown from 15 businesses to now 26. 

“I see more businesses excited,” said Katie Ruff, owner of By the Spoonful in McGregor and the McGregor-Marquette Chamber President, who’s organized the communities’ shop small efforts. “Last year was successful, so more are on board with enthusiasm and extra decorations and activities.”

Participation has even grown outside McGregor and Marquette. The Corner Shoppe in Garnavillo and The Pickett Fence and The Local Oven in Prairie du Chien will also get in on the action.

“It’s McGregor and Marquette concentrated,” Ruff said, “but it’s also the surrounding area. That’s a good thing. Shopping small in a rural area doesn’t just mean one community.”

One of the “Shop Small MarMac” highlights will be a punch card activity. To get involved, shoppers can pick up a “Shop Small MarMac” passport, or punch card, at any participating business. Collect punches by making purchases at those businesses. The more punches you collect, the more chances you will have to win some unique prizes. Once you’ve finished shopping, leave the punch card at the last business you visit, to be placed in a drawing for prizes donated by local businesses. 

Super shoppers, who visit nearly all the businesses, will be entered in a special drawing for a free, 30-minute massage every month of 2018 from Mind Your Body; a free take and bake entree every month of 2018 from By the Spoonful; and $100 in McGregor-Marquette Chamber Dollars.

The highlights don’t end there. Paper Moon, in McGregor, will have firemen from McGregor Hook and Ladder on-hand to wrap customers’ gifts. Ten percent of their proceeds  from the day will also be donated to the fire department.

The Left Bank Shop and Gallery will showcase two of its artists from noon to 3 p.m., with Joy James giving a silver jewelry demonstration and Suzanne Kaber offering a card-making demonstration and the opportunity to design and create greeting cards.

The McGregor Public Library will wrap up bidding for its books and baskets sale on Saturday, providing people with an opportunity to purchase gifts while supporting library programs and services.

McGregor Mercantile, which sustained damage from the July 19 tornado and has since been closed, will be open.

“This is a good way to come out and support them,” Ruff said. “A lot of businesses lost from a week to a couple months of revenue from the tornado. People were staying away. They need everyone’s support.”

By shopping small, people can find a variety of unique items—from wine, clothing, books and jewelry to foods, home decor, antiques and spa treatments.

“A lot of people don’t realize what wonderful businesses we have in our downtowns,” Ruff remarked. “You don’t have to drive to La Crosse or Dubuque.”

Shopping local also supports the local economy and the businesses that give back to the community, she added. 

“These are the people you live with,” Ruff said. “You can form relationships with the business owners. They know what you like and don’t like.

“Plus, when someone asks where you got their gift, it’s cute to say that you got it downtown, at a local business.”

For more information, see the ad on page 12 of this week's paper and check out the “Shop Small MarMac” event page on Facebook.

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