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New initiative encourages residents to shop local this holiday season

Hometown for the Holidays encourages local pride and cheer in time for Small Business Saturday

Now that cooking turkey is out of the way, another thing might be on your mind as you enter the holiday season: shopping.

As Black Friday winded down and Small Business Saturday approached, Andrea Dillon, executive director of the Cortez Retail Enhancement Association, encouraged locals to shop small this holiday season by heading a new initiative: Hometown for the Holidays.

The idea behind Hometown for the Holidays is that Montezuma County residents will turn to local retailers and restaurants as they embark on their holiday shopping ventures, and CREA – a not-for-profit established to enhance Cortez’s retail sphere – is helping to facilitate some of the foot traffic into Cortez brick-and-mortar shops.

“Supporting local businesses means we’re keeping our community thriving,” she said.

She said support was already evident in Cortez’s Black Friday turnout, which she hopes will continue through the weekend as stores offer giveaways and sales.

Last year, Small Business Saturday generated almost $20 billion in sales across the nation, according to data from American Express, which created the event in 2010 amid the recession.

Dillon has been a continuous advocate for Cortez’s development and expansion, and she thinks this festive time of the year is crucial for showing support for local establishments.

“I think that’s one of the takeaways this year – to kind of think outside the box,” she said. “There's a multitude of ways that we can support local retailers and local restaurants.”

She encouraged residents to do things like source ingredients for holiday meals locally, book holiday parties and buy gift cards for experiences like oil changes and hair salons.

“It's not just as simple as a retail purchase – although that's a huge focus. CREA this year is really encouraging people to be compassionate and supportive. A lot of our retail and restaurant locations are short-staffed, and we want to make sure that people feel supported and are patient and are kind – that goes a long way in our community,” she said.

As part of the Hometown for the Holidays lineup, CREA has become involved in local holiday events, like Stuff the Bus and the Festival of Wreaths, offering what it has dubbed as Cortez Cash – gift cards that encourage recipients to spend locally wherever Mastercard is accepted.

CREA also partnered with the city of Cortez to provide businesses with 81321 ornaments, fashioned by Mancos High School students, and wish list notepads that store visitors can take home to their friends and families.

On Dec. 9, CREA is sponsoring a nighttime shopping event from 5 to 8 p.m with Zu Gallery on Main Street. During the event, labeled Fa La La La Local, customers can present any Dec. 9 receipt from a Cortez business at the art gallery and receive a free alcoholic beverage. Mancos singer and songwriter duo Maddy and Kev will provide live music at Zu.

Erin Hanson, owner of Merriweather Home + Market, is one of many Cortez retailers hoping to draw local shoppers.

In her store on South Elm Street, which opened in October, she’s now selling locally themed gifts that represent Cortez, Dolores and Mancos.