There is no shortage of programs encouraging Oxford County residents to shop locally, but a recent initiative is allowing customers to take the lead in promoting small businesses.
Oxford Evolved is a program championed by the Ontario Chamber of Commerce and launched in Oxford County by the Tillsonburg District Chamber of Commerce with the support of other regional Chambers of Commerce, BIA’s, and community partners across the county. It extends across all eight municipalities, offering a unique collaborative approach though social media and video campaigns to bring awareness to the incredible small businesses in our communities.
Tillsonburg District Chamber of Commerce CEO Suzanne Renken says “Oxford has many shop local programs and we wanted to make sure Oxford Evolved didn’t impede on the others. Our focus is on businesses, through input from consumers. We wanted Oxford County residents to let us know about the hidden gems they wish they could tell people about. Having consumers involved they are telling us why they have changed their buying habits by spending more money locally. Business owners are so excited to get an unvarnished shout out. It is creating more of a personal relationship between businesses and the public, a relationship that can generate business and goodwill.” To date, approximately 240 small businesses have been highlighted on the Oxford Evolved Facebook page.
Suzanne adds that the feedback received about the amazing people and local businesses has been incredible. “We found some hidden gems that we didn’t know existed including home-based, service, and small start-ups that are just starting to grow a social media presence.” Once a consumer gives a shout out, the business is contacted to let them know there are people who think what they do is valuable. “Its really developed into this great community that we had no idea would happen because of what we were doing. We are also going to be releasing videos of people talking about some of their favourite businesses across Oxford County,” she adds.
A website is being put together featuring the businesses highlighted with customer reviews and will be ready in the new year. “Instead of trying to find a business through google or social media, we are combining businesses in one area. People can promote or recommend a business and then other customers can put their comments down to say why it is so great. Once the program is over the Tillsonburg District Chamber of Commerce will continue to grow the website organically,” says Suzanne.
The program’s Facebook page is currently highlighting a special holiday feature with captivating videos featuring the Christmas Chrinch. Videos of Oxford businesses visited by the Chrinch as he looks to find the spirit of Christmas across the area will be featured. Renken says despite the focus on Christmas, she would like to see everyone support local companies 12 months of the year. “We want Oxford County residents to remember that these businesses need love not just during the Christmas season, but year-round.”
To learn more about Oxford Evolved and give a shout out to your favourite Oxford County businesses, have a look at the Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/oxford.evolved/. The campaign kicked off in November and will run through to the end of January.