Gill proposes Shop at Home campaign

Published 10:08 am Sunday, September 15, 2013

A group of businesspeople and government and public officials gathered Monday to talk about the importance of shopping local and building community pride.

During the meeting, held in the upstairs courtroom at the Washington Parish Courthouse, Franklinton Area Economic Development Foundation President Mike Gill discussed the possibility of beginning a Shop at Home campaign. He said his idea is a six-month campaign that would include direct mail, newspaper and radio advertisements and billboards.

Gill said a friend showed him a promotion from the Shop at Home campaign done in the cities of Pineville and Alexandria and told him it was a “tremendous success.” Revenues were boosted in those locations following the campaign, he said.

Bob Munson, president and CEO of the Munson Group, presented sample logos and explained how such a campaign would work.

“It’s really about community pride. It comes down to people need to be proud of the community in which they live,” he said.

Attendees provided examples about things in Washington Parish they would like to promote. Parish Councilman Andre’ Johnson said many places in the parish would appeal to the film industry, and Parish President Richard Thomas said work has been done in that area and discussed several projects set to film soon.

Gill said a campaign would allow people to learn things they didn’t know about Washington Parish and encourage them want to become a part of the parish. That opinion was seconded by Councilman Mike Fussell.

“If we don’t educate the people, how will they know about it?” he said.

Shopping within the parish generates revenues through sales taxes and helps local merchants maintain a viable business, said Ryan Seal, executive director of the FAEDF and the Washington Economic Development Foundation. He said he would rather see shopping dollars go to local stores.

Superintendent Darrell Fairburn said Washington Parish School System teachers were encouraged to require only items that could be purchased in the parish when making their students’ supply list this year. He said that helps local stores and also keeps parents from having to make long trips to buy the supplies.

“We’ve been promoting that, and also, in our work, we try to use local contractors,” he said.

He said there is an education process to let people know the cost of gas to get there often outweighs any reduced prices at out-of-town stores.

Councilman Ken Wheat said large corporations like Walmart have made their way into homes through advertising.

“What we’re talking about here today — we need to advertise to bring it back home,” he said.