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It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas â€” at least it is at The Observer News Enterprise and Outlook.
As Catawba County's community newspapers launch their third annual "Hometown Christmas" campaign, the Christmas spirit will begin flowing at stores and businesses throughout the region.
"On Thursday we were proud to host the first Christmas party of 2010," O-N-E Publisher Michael Willard said of the event held at Newton Expo.
"This event was a great way for us to launch our one-of-a-kind, shop local campaign, and we're excited about the opportunity to help our county's locally owned and operated businesses prepare for a successful holiday season."
Designed to encourage residents to keep holiday spending in Catawba County and the Greater Hickory Metro, "Hometown Christmas" offers area advertisers huge discounts on their marketing for the holiday season.
"Unfortunately, every year, more and more people complete their shopping in big malls in far-away cities and through the Internet," Willard said. "We want to encourage people to spend their money here at home, where they will support their friends and neighbors who own and operate the businesses that are vital to our economy. Why support the big city and the national chain stores, when your money and your tax dollars are needed right here in the Hickory Metro?"
Residents shopping in the Hickory Metro will receive rich rewards as part of the Hometown Christmas program, too. Willard said the program has designed "Hometown Dollars" and every week between Nov. 4 and Dec. 16, The O-N-E will give $100 worth of the tender with Santa Claus' face on it.
"Hometown Dollars will be just as valuable as real money, but it will only be redeemable at the area merchants participating in the Hometown Christmas program," Willard said. "Those participating merchants will have entry blanks at their stores, and entry forms will be published in the pages of The O-N-E."
Residents will only need to visit the participating stores to drop off entry forms to become eligible for the weekly give-aways.
In mid-December, The O-N-E and participating merchants will have one more give-away â€” a prize package worth at least $500.
"This prize package will be coming just in time for Christmas," Willard said, "and it will be full of items from participating merchants as well as Hometown Dollars."
Last year, The O-N-E gave away two prize packages worth a combined total of more than $2,000, Willard said, and this year, the newspaper and merchants aim to give-away an even larger package.
Willard said every business in the Hickory Metro is invited to participate in the Hometown Christmas program, and every participant will receive advertising discounts and promotional materials to display in the store.
"We want to help everyone in the Hickory Metro to have a great holiday season, and I know that through great, consistent marketing in our publications, we can help advertisers attract business," Willard said.
"Meanwhile, as customers flock to participating businesses to submit registration forms for our give-aways and to spend Hometown Dollars, I know our economy will experience the positive benefits of a 'Hometown Christmas.'"
For more information on becoming a participating merchant, please contact The Observer News Enterprise, (828) 464-0221, or email Willard at email@example.com
"And be sure to look for the Hometown Christmas logos in the pages of The O-N-E and Outlook and at participating stores throughout the area," Willard said. "The special logo shows the way to businesses dedicated to supporting our local economy, and we hope you reward them with your patronage this holiday season."