Chamber shopping

Kyrene de las Lomas elementary student Mia Rose Hernandez peeks out from behind a clothes rack as East Valley Assistance League volunteer Mary Ann MacLean fills up a shopping cart. Some 45 Kyrene students were at Target in Tempe as part of the program Operation School Bell that allowed each youngster to pick out new school clothes. Sept. 8, 2010

Brian Johnson/AFN

The “Main Street Ahwatukee” program is an economic development initiative led by the Ahwatukee Foothills Chamber of Commerce (AFCC) that seeks to strengthen local businesses, increase employment opportunities and educate the public about the importance of buying locally whenever possible.

As we emerge from a recessionary economy every little bit that we can all do to help Ahwatukee businesses is important. Buying within the local community as much as possible can only help Ahwatukee companies survive and thrive.

Although many believe Ahwatukee is an independent city, the community is actually a village of the city of Phoenix. We’re unique, we have that small-town charm. A lot of business owners don’t want to be too big. In the majority of our member businesses, the owner is also one of just a few employees.

The AFCC’s “Main Street Ahwatukee,” in partnership with the Ahwatukee Foothills News, will help the community discover new and favorite neighborhood merchants. It’s a way to highlight chamber business members and provide a service that supports their growth. The information in the Main Street section will help the community to understand Ahwatukee in a more holistic and engaging way by capturing the life and energy of local businesses within these pages.

As consumers, residents have the power to shape our community and make a difference. When people shop in Ahwatukee first, they are saying YES to a strong vibrant local economy. When an effort is made to shop local people may be surprised by what is available. A multitude of small businesses, each selecting products based on their own interests and the needs of their local customers, guarantees a broad range of product choices.

Many businesses in Ahwatukee are owned by people who live in this community, and are invested in the community’s future. Small businesses are the largest employer in our community and provide many jobs to Ahwatukee residents. Local businesses often hire people with a better understanding of the products they are selling and take more time to get to know customers.

Shopping locally improves our community’s well-being, protects local character and prosperity. Local business ownership means decisions are being made by those who are local and care about the community. Local businesses understand the importance of excellent customer service and build strong neighborhoods by sustaining communities, linking neighbors, and by contributing more to local causes.

Sometimes that “local” shopper is the hardest to capture — but also essential to the community’s success. When you walk into a business in Ahwatukee, many times they know what sandwich you will order, or what your favorite hobby is.

Where we shop, where we eat and have fun — all of it makes our community home. Our goal for the “Main Street Ahwatukee” section is to provide that information so local residents can get to know our businesses and see that they are an integral part of the distinctive character of Ahwatukee.

Anne Gill is president and chief executive officer of the Ahwatukee Foothills Chamber of Commerce. Reach her at (480) 753-7676 or anne@ahwatukeechamber.com.

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