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Keeping it close to home

Bethlehem Chamber's new campaign urges consumers to think local

In tough times, neighbors naturally want to help their neighbors.

And one of the ways to do that very simply is to keep one's money in the community. The Bethlehem Chamber of Commerce is trying to make it easier for residents to do just that with a new program encouraging a buy local mentality.

The Think. Buy. Local campaign is getting kicked off in the Chamber's new member directory for this year, and will also be publicized at the upcoming opening of the Delmar Farmers Market on June 4.

The Chamber is hoping to remind people that shopping local is not only convenient but supports business owners and employees who live right in the community. Although the campaign is just getting started, it's hoped it will also benefit members through things like cooperative advertising.

"Sometimes those small organizations don't have money, per se, for marketing budgets," said Chamber President Jennifer Kilcoyne.

In addition to being a resource for locating businesses, the Chamber's membership directory also features 10 reasons to buy local, written by business owners.

Bringing Bethlehem businesses together to work with a community mindset is a big goal of the campaign, said Jonathan Phillips, owner of Phillips Hardware and a Chamber member who has been active in constructing the initiative.

"As a group effort, we can make a bigger difference in making everybody support each other," he said. "The time couldn't be better, I think people are ready for those kind of concepts."

Kilcoyne said Bethlehem shouldn't just be looking to town residents, though, suggesting the area could be a great destination for day trips. Tapping into the recession's "staycation" craze could be a winning move.

"I think that there's an opportunity to draw people here for the day, to shop, to eat, and I think this kind of initiative could move things in that direction," Kilcoyne said.

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