We have welcomed 2021 with what is surely a universal desire to turn the corner on the COVID-19 pandemic. That desire is keenly felt among many Wilton small businesses that continue to struggle under the weight of COVID-related challenges in their shops, restaurants, and service businesses.
The Wilton Chamber of Commerce and the Wilton Economic Development Commission (EDC) are both undertaking initiatives to support Wilton businesses in the current economic environment.
Winter Fest 2021
The Wilton Chamber of Commerce has announced a two-week event that will both promote Wilton merchants and also reward shoppers and boost the spirits of residents experiencing the winter (or pandemic) doldrums.
Residents may recall the Chamber’s annual Winter Carnival, traditionally held the Sunday before the Superbowl in Wilton center. The Carnival has been re-imagined for this year, largely out of necessity, due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
The inaugural Winter Fest 2021 will take place Feb. 1-13. Merchants are being invited to decorate their storefronts for the event with a “Winter Fest” or “Wilton Warriors” blue and white theme.
The promotional aspect of Winter Fest includes a bonus gift certificate program. Shoppers who purchase a gift card/certificate from a participating retailer or restaurant will receive a bonus Chamber of Commerce gift certificate worth 20% of the value of the gift certificate purchased.
Shoppers must follow certain requirements* to ensure they receive their bonus, and importantly, the program will be capped at $1,000. Shoppers should check the Chamber’s Winter Fest webpage for specific requirements and updates on the bonus gift certificate availability. (The $1,000 cap might increase depending on sponsorship levels.)
With all social distancing guidelines and precautions in place, the finale of the two-week event will take place on Sat., Feb. 13 with:
- Ice sculptures around the gazebo
- A meet-and-greet with Olaf (from the movie Frozen)
- Town-wide sidewalk sales
In a statement about the Winter Fest event, the Chamber said, “We hope this bonus gift certificate incentive will create more revenue for our local businesses and encourage shopping and dining during the winter months” and also noted, “It is a great way to find the perfect gift for your Valentine and help support a local business.”
Participating businesses will be updated on the website prior to the event.
Businesses may contact the Chamber’s executive director, Camille Carriero, by email or at 203.762.0567 with any questions.
EDC Will Hold Special Meeting for Wilton Businesses, Step Up Social Media
Last October, the Board of Selectmen requested the EDC explore COVID-related business impacts on Wilton merchants and to respond to the BoS with recommendations. At the EDC’s Oct. 14 meeting, the commission agreed to survey Wilton’s businesses to understand the specific issues they faced.
Some insights have been compiled since then and were discussed at the EDC’s Jan. 13 meeting, but the commission plans to seek more information from business owners before offering any recommendations to the BoS.
In the Jan. 13 EDC meeting, the commissioners agreed to continue their fact-finding in a Special Meeting to be organized for Wednesday, Jan. 27. Members of the Wilton business community are invited to attend the Q&A style forum, with topics expected to include how COVID has affected their business, obstacles to their success, and what the town might do to help. Those who wish to participate in the public meeting may find the agenda and Zoom meeting information on the town’s EDC webpage, to be posted shortly.
The commission is also making a more concerted social media effort to support Wilton businesses, particularly on Facebook. Their goal is to “amplify” local businesses and news about them on the EDC’s Facebook page. Businesses and residents are encouraged to “like” the EDC’s Facebook page.
Commissioner Toni Lee described the social media effort as “a start” and said, “We have a lot more to do.”
* Here’s the fine print on the Chamber’s bonus gift certificate program: Gift certificates from participating businesses must be purchased Feb. 1-13, 2021. Proof of purchase with date must be submitted via email. Wilton Chamber of Commerce bonus gift certificate will be mailed to the purchaser. Bonus gift certificate will be valid Feb. 14–31, 2021.