POTTSTOWN — Lightning can strike twice.
A second round of the Shop Small to Win Big initiative was a success. The event was initially held in April, to focus attention on small businesses across the region that were economically impacted by the spread of the coronavirus.
The first event was so successful — generating more than $80,000 for small businesses — the second round was quickly announced.
At the conclusion of the second event, 906 receipts were submitted for a totally of $68,360.21 spent at participating businesses in the second round. Between the two events — a total of nearly $148,700 was spent locally.
“To see the results mirrored in the second event drives home how important these businesses are,” said event organizer Chris Lerch. “People who made purchases the first time, continued to make them — to eat out more times than normal or to find a new business to support. It shows it’s more than just a novelty — it’s something more important to these people.”
The second round — which wrapped up over the Memorial Day weekend — again invited businesses to donate gift cards which were offered as a prize. To be eligible to win the gift cards, entrants needed to make at least one purchase totaling $50 from one of the participating businesses during the 7-day purchase period.
This time, each business donated two, $50 gift cards, which enabled Lerch to award a first, second and third place prize.
A total of 100 businesses contributed gift cards for the second round. During the 7-day purchase period, entrants submitted their receipts to Lerch through the Hello 422 Facebook page or via email. On Monday, May 25, Lerch conducted a Facebook Live event to randomly select the winning receipts.
Grand prize winner Kim Jollay, won 100, $50 gift cards worth $5,000. Second place winner Jennifer Smith of Royersford and third place winner Janet Mahoney of Phoenixville each won 25, $50 gift cards, valued at $2,500 for each package.
Smith donated 25 of her cards back to Lerch, while Mahoney donated 15. Lerch said the remaining gift cards are being donated to charity.
There was a new aspect to the Shop Small to Win Big initiative this time — a “Battle of the Breweries” held Friday, May 22 between J.J. Ratigan Brewing Co. in Pottstown and Stickman Brews in Royersford to see which business could generate the most receipts in one day. The mayors of both towns — Jenna Antoniewicz of Royersford and Stephanie Henrick of Pottstown — got involved and agreed that whichever brewery received the least number of receipts, that town’s mayor would go to the winning brewery for takeout. In the end, Stickman Brews had 49 receipts while J. J. Ratigan had 67.
“Both breweries had a ton of receipts,” Lerch said. “It was crazy watching the receipts coming in and so cool seeing how the mayors supported it.”
Coincidentally, according to Lerch, that day was the highest total for receipts, with more than $17,500 spent across all the participating businesses.
The area business with the highest number of receipts overall was Ignite Fitness Studio of Glenmoore, owned by Ashley Shivak, with 72 receipts.
THE MOVEMENT CONTINUES
The Shop Small to win Big initiative has spawned a spin-off, according to Lerch. After being contacted by several people looking for a list of black-owned businesses in the area, he began to compile a list and then put together a “Black Business Showcase — Shop Small to Win Big” event.
“There are a lot of people right now looking to specifically support these businesses,” Lerch said.
Lerch has put together a prize pack valued at more than $1,000 worth of gift cards and goods from local businesses for one person that makes a purchase of at least $25 from any of the black-owned businesses participating in the initiative.
The list is posted on the Hello 422 Facebook page.
Purchases must be made between Monday, June 8 and Friday, June 12. As with the previous Shop Small to Win Big events, a winner will be chosen from the receipts submitted via email to firstname.lastname@example.org or sent via Facebook messenger to Hello 422.
“I’m doing it to bring awareness to local black-owned businesses. I think many of us are searching for ways to contribute in a positive way given the recent events in our country, and for me, that’s using the Hello 422 platform,” Lerch said in a Friday email. “My hope is that this brings these businesses some new customers and an increase of sales during these difficult times.”
By Friday afternoon, nearly 20 black-owned businesses had signed up, but Lerch expected the list to grow over the weekend.
Additionally, Lerch said there will be a round three of the Shop Small to Win Big initiative later in June, and then he expects that event to end — for now.
What isn’t ending is the focus on small business through the Hello 422 Facebook page. Lerch said he is focusing on individual businesses with some spin off events.
“I am using the Hello 422 site to showcase what is going on with these businesses. People can go to the page and see events that are happening and that are local to them,” he added.