Our View: Collaborate, don’t isolate when promoting shopping local

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We are officially engulfed in the throes of the holiday shopping rush. Thoughts of gift ideas, budgets and where to shop dance through our heads as we hunt for that perfect gift.
But the question is … where to go? Big box store or mom-and-pop?
It’s an easy answer for local merchants, but getting that message out to the public and working together with business organizations to promote each other in town is a task that needs more focus from those in the local business community.
We’re sitting in the prime time for holiday shopping, yet there is a disconnect between local business organizations, such as Think Auburn First, the Old Town Business Association and the Downtown Business Association — three organizations that didn’t really capitalize on a recent promotion sponsored by a large credit card company.
Small Business Saturday, which followed Black Friday, was designated as a day to really highlight the mom-and-pops that power our community. However, it wasn’t coordinated or promoted well by the business associations or businesses, and our merchants didn’t benefit like they could have.
This is just one example of where local business leaders are missing out on an opportunity to cross promote each other’s districts and shops and come up with a common goal that benefits all locally-owned enterprises.
Eliminating the shopping district silos within Auburn and working in a spirit of collaboration can go a lot farther in promoting what local businesses have to offer than keeping them separate and being limited by smaller budgets and support base.
An example of how collaboration could mean a win-win for local merchants is the move of the Auburn Festival of Lights parade to this weekend – which happens to be the same weekend as Country Christmas in Old Town. Parade organizers acknowledge there’s been some grumbling by those in the Old Town camp about Festival of Lights cutting into their event.
Why not adjust the schedule to accommodate both events and offer the opportunity for families to have a great evening of parade fun and Country Christmas flair?
Start the Old Town event a little earlier so people came come early, check it out and go watch the parade — or extend the hours so when you have thousands of people trolling the streets at the end of the parade they have a place to see another holiday event.
Instead of being upset about stepping on each others toes, get together as a group and find ways to make events beneficial to all sides and then combine efforts to better promote and accommodate each other. One example of this mode of thinking is when parade organizers changed their event’s route to end at the overlook instead of the Gold Country Fairgrounds parking area, thus allowing attendees of the Country Christmas the ability to park in the fairgrounds parking lot and take a shuttle into Old Town.  
Now, more than ever, is the time to combine efforts and collaborate with each other to show the customer base what all of Auburn has to offer and drive people in the door.
That’s an idea worth putting under the tree.