I’m sure many of us would rather just put 2020 behind us by now as, ultimately, an epic fail. And, in many ways it was. But for the Chamber it was perhaps busier than ever, and while things were canceled left and right, people were sent home to work, and schools were closed, we were able to take a bad situation and make an incredibly positive impact on our community.
Here’s some of the highlights we accomplished in 2020:
Tillamook Farmers Market: 2020 was actually a banner year for the Tillamook Farmers Market, as it was the 20th anniversary. We didn’t get to properly acknowledge this milestone thanks to the pandemic, but we still had a successful season. Sales were up significantly for our farmers especially as people focused on planting victory gardens and found the outdoor shopping experience safer than the grocery store. We had to adapt to COVID regulations but overall the market resembled some normalcy for people, which was greatly appreciated.
Covid Business Resources: From March on, it seemed like things were changing by the day, if not by the minute. We’ve worked diligently to stay on top of the information as it comes from the state and feds and filter it to our business community in a way that clearly showcases what impacts them and their business. Additionally, we distributed over $30,000 in Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) at no-cost to local small businesses.
June Dairy Parade: Inside Out: In the midst of closures our team rallied around a vision to keep the June Dairy Parade alive, and instead offer it in a way that would be safe for the community and safe for the parade participants. We came up with the Inside Out Parade, where parade “floats” stayed stationary and the audience drove through the route. It was a logistical nightmare, but we knew if we pulled it off it could be a great event for our community during a summer where things were being canceled left and right. While I hope we never have to do it again, I heard from many people who thoroughly enjoyed the parade in this new format and asked that we do it again next year. It was a glimmer of hope during an otherwise bleak summer.
Tillamook Takeout: Probably one of my personal favorite accomplishments of 2020 was the Tillamook Takeout campaign. We started this in early March just as restaurants were being shut down by the Governor’s Executive Order. The goal was simple: get people to support our restaurants by ordering takeout. We threw together a quick plan and received immediate funding from Visit Tillamook Coast to offer weekly giveaways to folks who got take-out and used #TillamookTakeout on their social media. We created a Facebook group to track takeout entries, that has more than 4,200 members and is still actively supporting restaurants. Fast forward to the second shutdown this December, we knew we had to make another run at and hit it hard, and thanks to sponsorship from the Tillamook County Creamery Association we were able to do just that. We knew from the get go that Tillamook Takeout had the ability to be successful, but we were overwhelmed by the impact this had on our restaurant community with more than $3 million dollars generated through takeout orders.
We hired new staff: In 2020 we brought on a new Programs & Events Manager, Ashley Christenson, and a new Communications Manager, Ashley Rushing. Yes, it does get complicated around here with two Ashleys, but we are really benefiting from their fresh eyes, positive attitudes, and artistic perspectives on our projects and programs. Together they have revamped Sip + Shop and turned it into a cohesive downtown event, even through COVID, and launched a new family-friendly downtown event: Treats + Sweets.
#WereStillOpen: Through some grant dollars from Visit Tillamook Coast, we were able to produce a video for our downtown retail community reminding residents – and visitors – that we were still open for business. Stay tuned as we expand on this idea for 2021.
Shop Small Sweepstakes: For one final blow to 2020’s efforts to ruin everything we ended the year with the Shop Small Sweepstakes. This year we expanded the sweepstakes to all locally-owned businesses in Tillamook County and for community safety we added an extremely popular text entry option. With video highlights of businesses and many more entries, we ended 2020 with an extremely successful sweepstakes sponsored by US Bank.
It was a stressful year – no question about that – but overall, I was incredibly thankful for my board, staff, and our Chamber members for their willingness to fight for our business community. We will come out of this stronger, and I am just blessed to be a part of it. So take that, 2020.