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Choose Local This Holiday Season

With community support of downtown businesses, this holiday season can be De Pere’s “It’s a Wonderful Life” moment

Definitely De Pere kicks off the “Choose Local” holiday shopping, dining challenge for customers at stores and restaurants throughout downtown De Pere.

With the holidays right around the corner, business owners on every block in historic downtown De Pere are banding together to make this holiday season a truly magical one despite the many challenges brought by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Today, against the backdrop of a festive scene with a horse and carriage in the city’s retail district, Definitely De Pere announced the kickoff to a “Choose Local” holiday shopping and dining challenge while drawing inspiration from the classic holiday movie “It’s a Wonderful Life.”

The aim: Have the community commit 75% of its holiday spending to local shops and restaurants, whether online or in-person, to help sustain the locally owned small businesses in downtown De Pere that have been hit hard by the realities of COVID-19.

“Our local business community needs the support of our local shoppers,” said Tina Quigley, executive director of Definitely De Pere, the City of De Pere’s Main Street program that supports and promotes downtown De Pere and its businesses. “We are blessed to have a diverse group of businesses and amazing business owners who make our community special. Now, we have an opportunity to reciprocate and truly make them feel special during these difficult times by safely shopping online or at their stores for holiday gifts, picking up a holiday meal or treats, or purchasing gift cards.”

De Pere Mayor James Boyd joined officials from Definitely De Pere and downtown De Pere business owners at the kickoff announcement, which was held on the new plaza outside the famous Union Hotel & Restaurant on Broadway with social distancing enforced.

“It’s been 75 years since George Bailey, as portrayed by Jimmy Stewart, had his iconic ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ holiday moment when the people of Bedford Falls supported him so he could keep the Bailey Brothers Building & Loan open,” Boyd said. “This is that moment for our businesses in De Pere, especially those downtown on both sides of the Fox River. They’ve been hit hard by the effects of the pandemic. Many of them have experienced significant drops in revenue and are doing everything they can to keep their businesses going.

“They are our hardworking, dedicated and beloved neighbors. I invite all of us to do our part to keep this historic downtown thriving. Please spend your holiday dollars locally this holiday season,” Boyd added.

The “Choose Local” campaign in downtown De Pere will extend throughout the holiday season. The upcoming Thanksgiving week includes the popular Black Friday and Small Business Saturday for shopping. A week later, on Dec. 5, Definitely De Pere will host Holly Day with Santa and Mrs. Claus making a special appearance as they ride through downtown on a horse-drawn carriage.

“Our motto is ‘Love Local This Season,’” Quigley said. “Buying local this holiday season will help ensure the wellness and vitality of downtown De Pere in the crucial days, weeks and months to come. And, with the help of our business owners, we are making it easier, safer and incredibly fun for customers to support our unique small businesses by remembering just one website: deperedowntown.org.”

Definitely De Pere launched the easy-to-use website — deperedowntown.org — for consumers to see the variety of offerings and then click on the many retail, restaurant and entertainment options available in De Pere during the holiday season and beyond. The website includes information for each retailer for online ordering and curbside, takeout and delivery options, along with ways to purchase gift cards.

And as an interactive way for holiday shoppers and diners to explore downtown De Pere, the social medial channels for Definitely De Pere —@definitelydepere on Facebook and Instagram and @downtowndepere on Twitter — are featuring videos, photos and stories of the many faces behind the storefronts.

There also will be major prize giveaways for gift-card packages from downtown De Pere merchants.

“On behalf of my fellow downtown De Pere business owners, we invite the community to come visit, shop and dine with us this holiday season—whether safely in person or virtually from the comfort of your homes,” said Shanna Zeitler, owner of Azure women’s clothing and accessory store.

“We, the local businesses of De Pere, are asking for our community’s support,” Zeitler continued. “In a time where big-box retail chains and Amazon are having record years, we ask our friends and neighbors to make a conscious and intentional choice to support local both this holiday season and beyond. When you invest in your community, all of us as small business owners are able to continue to bring unique shopping, dining and lifestyle experiences to enrich the city we all call home!”

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