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Small Business Saturday adds fun and adventure to shopping local

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[December 01, 2014]  LINCOLN - This past Saturday, visitors to downtown Lincoln had the opportunity to go on a local adventure as the Lincoln/Logan County Chamber of Commerce, Main Street Lincoln, and downtown merchants hosted a shopping scavenger hunt.

This year, for the first time, the Chamber was the organizer of the Small Business Saturday in Lincoln and partnered with Main Street Lincoln to host the event. For a first-time effort, the event went very well. There were a couple of small snafu’s, but nothing that truly hindered shoppers from enjoying the day and reaping the reward of approximately $700 worth of gift cards given during and after the scavenger hunt.

A Small Business Saturday headquarters was set up in front of the O’Donohue building on North Kickapoo. At the beginning of the day, a ribbon cut was held at the headquarters and refreshments of Mel-O-Cream pastries and sweets, bottled water, and cider from Kroger were offered to guests.

The rules of the scavenger hunt were explained, and shoppers set off to find not just the best bargains of the day, but also the hidden watermelons that would yield a number of gift cards.

Ten local stores took part in the event. At each participating retailer, there was a poster on the front door assigning a task to be completed inside that store. Once the task was completed, shoppers were given a clue card that would send them to the next participating store. At that stop, shoppers could look for a special slice of watermelon. If found, the melon could be turned into the store clerk for the possibility of winning a gift card.

Each participating retailer had two cards to give away. But, the winning didn’t stop there.

If shoppers made their way to all 10 stores, and collected their clues, they were then permitted to enter the large drawing held at the small business headquarter at 2 p.m.

During the day, volunteers manned the headquarters urging passersby to participate in the scavenger hunt and inviting everyone to enjoy the refreshments.

Other volunteers gathered up bags of goodies being given away at the headquarters and took to the streets. As they met shoppers along the way, the volunteers encouraged them to participate in the scavenger hunt.

The end result -- at 2 p.m. approximately 25 shoppers returned to the headquarters with all 10 clues and gained a chance to win the big prize.

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As the drawing time approached, Nicole Cox of the Chamber asked shoppers to comment on the day’s event. All agreed that they enjoyed the scavenger hunt, but many said they wished more of the downtown businesses had participated.

Cox said that this year’s event was the starting point, the trial run if you will, to see if the scavenger hunt would generate more interest in the local event. She felt good about how it all worked out this year, and believes that next year, it will grow.

When the clock at the Logan County Courthouse sounded out that it was 2 p.m., Cox conducted the drawing for $200 worth of gift cards from local merchants. The entire collection went to one lucky winner, Amanda Jones of Lincoln. Amanda is a senior at Lincoln Community High School. She had obviously visited all ten stores and said that of the ten watermelon slices she had located three.

The prize package for the final drawing included $25 from Mary Todd’s Hallmark, $25 from Serendipity Stitches, $25 from MKS Jewelers, $30 from New Beginnings Thrift Shop, $10 from Beans & Such, $20 from By the Bean and $75 in pre-paid American Express cards.

The downtown businesses that participated this year were Beans & Such, By the Bean, Lloyd & Luna’s Unique Boutique, Mary Todd’s Hallmark, Michael Gowin Photography, MKS Jewelry, New Beginnings, Prairie Years, and Serendipity Stitches.

[Nila Smith]

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