The Ceres Chamber of Commerce has produced a video on Youtube.com which promotes its Shop Local campaign and its message of "Shift 10 when you spend."
The one minute, 30-second video features a number of city employees in their work settings and holding an erasable white board highlighting the services that sales tax dollars support. The video shows a Ceres firefighter, Ceres Police Sgt. Pat Crane, seniors exercising, Recreation Supervisor Traci Farris, a parks worker and children playing in the park. It also directs persons to check out the Chamber's message at www.shopceresfirst.com.
"We're trying to make more use of our technology to get the message out," said Chamber President Renee Ledbetter.
Two weekends ago Ledbetter threw out a Facebook challenge to have people take a selfie inside a Ceres store and post it to the Chamber's Facebook page to be eligible for a drawing which was pulled on Monday for a $10 gift card.
"It's going to take some time to get the message out."
Last year the Ceres Chamber of Commerce came up with a public relations campaign designed to get Ceres residents and workers to make an effort to spend their money in Ceres rather than first run off to Modesto, Turlock or other larger cities with increased shopping opportunities.
Ledbetter said that shifting an additional 10 percent of their spending dollars here in Ceres "will really make a huge difference" in the revenue stream received by the city for spending on essential services.
The city raked in $4.8 million in its portion of the sales tax revenue collected in Ceres for the 2013-14 fiscal year. Ledbetter said the city would stand to gain $480,000 in additional tax dollars if Ceres residents spent 10 percent more shopping dollars to Ceres merchants.
"It just takes a small effort instead of shopping in another community when you're on your way home. Just make the effort to come home and shop here."
In its quest to get more shopping in Ceres, the Chamber is working with the city to get a Shop Local message on the large billboard west of Highway 99 just south of Whitmore Avenue. Ledbetter said the Chamber is seeking $1,200 from one or more sponsors to help underwrite the message in exchange for business advertisement on the billboard.
She's also trying to get the message on canvas shopping bags since there is a new state law on plastic bags on July 1.
"I'm going out to local merchants to see if they would like to sponsor a quantity of those bags and then have their logo put on the back of bag and then the Shop Local campaign put on the front. So right now I'm devising that program so that I can roll it out."
"The idea is to bring dollars that are spent back into the community in forms of services the city provides through sales tax dollars," said Ledbetter.
She acknowledges that Ceres merchants do not sell everyone one may need but "for certain things we're asking them to start thinking on a local level."
The Chamber leader shared a number of ideas and promotions to get more business for Ceres. She said the cereschamber.com website will feature pockets of shopping opportunities.
"It's just going to be a matter of a mindset," she said, "changing that mindset that people should shop here."
While it may convenient to shop in Modesto while there, Ledbetter said residents need to remember local merchants at home who sell the same products.
"Even if I'm in Modesto, I make it a point to say I'm coming to Ceres to shop."
The Chamber website lists 10 reasons for shopping locally:
• Keep money in the neighborhood;
• Embrace what makes us different;
• Get better service;
• Create and keep good locally-owned jobs;
• Promote competition and diversity;
• Help out the environment by travelling less and thus polluting less;
• Support community groups since non-profits receive an average of 350 percent more support from local businesses than from non-locally owned businesses;
• Put your taxes to good use since local businesses need comparatively less infrastructure investment and makes for efficient use of public services;
• Local economies are positively impacted when people plan to spend holiday shopping dollars at local firms and not chain stores;
• Local business owners are more invested in the community.