The Ceres Chamber of Commerce is embarking on a number of new ways to promote Ceres as a place to do business.
"In addition to promoting the 10 top reasons why people should shop local," said Renee Ledbetter, president of the Ceres Chamber of Commerce, "we're going to be kicking off a ‘Shift 10 When You Spend' campaign which basically encourages citizens to try and shift an additional 10 percent of their spending dollars here in Ceres. And it will really make a huge difference just by doing a little bit. 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."
Part of the campaign is to ask Ceres merchants to shift their sourcing to Ceres businesses.
The Chamber is also re-tooling its website to "add some new components to benefit members" and use it for a "Gift Ceres" gift card campaign. Local merchants will be able to procure gift cards through giftcards.com and their relationship to Discover card, to sell to customers. The Chamber will be inviting local merchants to participate in the gift card program "at a very affordable price for them," said Ledbetter. Consumers will receive the gift cards by mail and able to spend them at Chamber members' businesses.
In its quest to get more shopping in Ceres, the Chamber is working with city staff to get a Shop Local message on the large billboard west of Highway 99 just south of Whitmore Avenue. Ledbetter said the message will hopefully by sponsored by local businesses.
Ledbetter announced the Chamber's plans at the Nov. 10 council meeting. Mayor Chris Vierra said he went out of his way to shop at a market "in a different part of town" which he had never shopped at before. "I wanted it to stay in town," said Vierra.
Earlier this year the Chamber unveiled the "Shop Local" campaign.
"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. "So what we're on a mission to do is develop some sort of public education campaign... on why it is important to shop local and support the businesses here."
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."
A "Shop Local" sticker may be issued to merchants and Ledbetter hopes to run a media campaign that includes the local newspaper, radio spots and billboards.
City Manager Toby Wells suggested everyone in the city to promote Ceres as individuals, stressing that each one can do business one by one.
"As we make every day - and special - purchases, it's a good thing to ask ourselves if we can make that purchase right here in our hometown," said Steve Hallam, the city's economic development director.
Ledbetter said the Chamber has worked hard to build the membership and is stressing "business to business connectivity" to put owners in touch with owners to maximize use of local products. She gave the example of getting restaurant owners to serve Bronco Wines since the company is based in Ceres.