In this season of love, Marietta Main Street is sharing their love for local with a special promotion to help downtown businesses as they continue to recover amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The Love Local Box is a one-time-only box filled with goods from downtown Marietta businesses in one of four fun themes, which include: Eat & Drink Local, Live Local, Explore Local, and Surprise Local. Priced at $50 each, 200 boxes in total will be available for purchase starting Wednesday, February 10th through Marietta Main Street’s website.
Shoppers will have a hard time choosing between each collection of local goods. Inside the Eat & Drink Local Box, shoppers will find gift certificates to downtown restaurants, snacks, shot glasses, and more, while the Live Local Box includes artist-made items, dish towels, wax melts, and other home goods. Each box contains items valued between $70-100+ with items inspired by, made in, or found only in Marietta.
Fifty boxes in each theme will be available through February 24th, or until they sell out (whichever comes first) at which time they will be packaged with care and shipped to each lucky recipient. Locals, former-locals, and tourists alike can ship themselves or someone they care about a package of local love, a welcome surprise this winter.
Making an Impact
“I’m sure it doesn’t need to be restated that COVID-19 has imposed significant challenges to businesses, especially small, local businesses,” said Cristie Thomas, Executive Director of Marietta Main Street.
Winter months can be tough on small businesses, especially those in retail sectors, even during pre-pandemic times. “Typically, a high impact holiday season helps downtown retailers and restaurants get through January, February, and March. But, with folks cutting back on expenses, shopping outings, and get-togethers, sales naturally decline. We need to think creatively about how we support our downtown business community and the Love Local Box is a nod to that creativity, allowing purchasers to support multiple businesses in one box.”
The Love Local Box is being coordinated in partnership between Marietta Main Street and Marietta College’s Office of Civic Engagement and features more than twenty local businesses and organizations in total.
Participating businesses include 740 Social, American Flags and Poles, Clutch MOV, Dad’s Primitive Workbench, Edward Jones, Jeremiah’s Coffee House, Just A Jar Design Press, Marietta Adventure Company, Modest Peacock, Over the Moon Pub & Pizza, Riverside Artists Gallery, Rockstar Wellness LLC, Teri Ann’s, The Cook’s Shop, The Original Pizza Place, The Wellness Retreat, Third Street Deli, and Wit & Whimzy, as well as Marietta College and the Marietta-Washington County CVB.
“The Love Local Box is an opportunity for folks to support multiple downtown businesses with one purchase. Over 20 businesses will generate revenue through this effort, with over $17,000 in retail value sold if we sell out of all 200 Love Local Boxes available,” said Thomas. That value does not include purchases made in addition to the gift card value or coupons.
Marietta Main Street, a charitable nonprofit dedicated to the revitalization of downtown Marietta, also benefits from the sale of each box. “Thanks to the generosity of our downtown business community and that of the Marietta College Office of Civic Engagement in participating in this effort, we will receive a donation per box sold,” said Thomas. “The donation ranges based on which themed-box is sold, but anywhere between $7-$10 will be donated to our organization per Love Local Box.”
Tom Perry, Marietta College Vice President for Communication and Brand Management, said the college was proud to partner with the downtown community. “We value the positive and strong relationship we have with these partners. Being able to share with potential students and their families that we have a thriving downtown district that they want to explore for dining, shopping, lodging, and so much more is invaluable and makes a major impact on how they view the college and the place they hope to call home for the next four years,” said Perry. “Being able to support the Love Local Box project was a no-brainer for us, especially since we believe our alumni will want to participate in this program.”
The Love Local Box project partnership is part of Marietta College’s “Campaign for Hope” series of events and service projects that the Office of Civic Engagement is organizing on campus. The series was launched in connection with the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service last month.
Not only does a thriving local business community enhance the quality of life and experience for students, faculty, staff, families, and visitors, our local businesses also donate items and services for student-led service projects.Maribeth Tanner, Director of Civic Engagement
“Our office is working with Marietta Main Street by recruiting and organizing volunteers to help with item collection and packing the boxes for shipment,” said Maribeth Tanner, Marietta College Director of Civic Engagement. The college is also supporting the cost of packaging and mailing through grant funds received to support local service projects, allowing Marietta Main Street to maximize the amount of resources that directly support its mission.
“We love our local businesses!” said Tanner. “Not only does a thriving local business community enhance the quality of life and experience for students, faculty, staff, families, and visitors, our local businesses also donate items and services for student-led service projects and events throughout the year, sponsor programs and events, and provide internships, job opportunities, and mentoring for our students.”
As a partner, Marietta College is also donating Marietta College T-shirts along with other small items that will be included in at least one of the themed boxes. “We are also donating 100 of our Matriculation posters that were designed by local artist Bobby Rosenstock of Just A Jar Design Press, a downtown retailer,” said Perry.
The Greater Good
Each of the four themed boxes contains unique items, many of which can only be found in Marietta, like a jar of special seasoning from 740 Social or a handmade bracelet with a map of Marietta. Many participating businesses offered their included items at a discount to create even more value for shoppers, even if it meant making less for themselves.
For participating businesses, the impacts of COVID-19 have varied. “COVID has affected us all in different ways and negatively affected many of Marietta’s retail shops and restaurants,” said Ken Kupsche, owner of The Cook’s Shop. “Hopefully, by discounting and creating value in the box, someone else will benefit more than me by selling their product with a little more profit in the transaction.”
Kupsche said he appreciated the fundraising aspect of this promotion and wanted to see Marietta Main Street benefit. “The organization has done a great job helping to steer its membership towards funding, resources, and other opportunities that have been available for struggling businesses this past year. Bottom line: create a box with good monetary value (not just feel good value), sell a bunch, pass the benefit on to those who need it.”
Winter has been tough for The Cook’s Shop, and so has the past year. “We were closed for seven weeks with no cash flow to pay bills, and then it was super slow as we reopened. We hesitated when restocking the store because we didn’t want to be closed down again with inventory that we couldn’t pay for.”
So, Ken and his wife Dagmar tightened up on inventory control and concentrated on their top selling products. “That worked until October when we started to see cracks in the supply chain. Our vendors apparently had done the same thing we had – held back orders in the summer due to uncertain markets,” he said. “Now that demand was picking up they had nothing to ship. To make matters worse, as they tried to increase production they found that raw materials were in short supply. Can you say ‘dominoes?’”
Despite the unrelenting economic and logistic challenges presented by the pandemic, Ken says there have been bright moments, too.
“All that being said, we feel very blessed for the unbelievable support that we’ve received from the local community this past year. Even with all this craziness we managed to have our best December in eleven years and managed to finish the year down only a couple of percent. Which brings me back to why we’re participating in the Love Local Box – for the group, for the community, for the valley.”
Love Local Boxes can be purchased through Marietta Main Street from February 10th through February 24th, or until they are sold out.