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Chamber, Washington Tourism promote commerce with videos

As North Carolina prepares to enter Phase II of the state’s reopening plan, the Washington-Beaufort County Chamber of Commerce and the Washington Tourism Development Authority are each rolling out new video series to help reignite Beaufort County’s economy.

At the Chamber, the message is perhaps more important than ever as small businesses begin to reopen their doors — shop local. That’s the theme of the new video series the Chamber is releasing via its Facebook page every other day. In each video, the question is the same: “Why do you think it’s important to buy local?” The answers, in turn, come straight from local business owners.

“As we start opening up more and more, we’re going to really need everybody to think about buying in town and not on Amazon or out of town,” said Chamber Director Catherine Glover.

Going out to the businesses and meeting in person with the owners, the videos are filmed with proper social distancing in mind. So far, the Chamber has highlighted four local businesses — Park Boat Company, CresCom Bank, Southern Grace Boutique and Pecheles Toyota. Glover said more will follow, and Chamber members can send requests to Caroline Midyette at caroline@wbcchamber.com to be featured in their own segment.

“If you’re sitting there and about to buy something on Amazon, if there’s a local business that has it, call them, or see if they can get it for you,” Glover said. “Just shop and think local. That’s how the majority of businesses are going to make it.”

While the Chamber is working to promote individual businesses, the WTDA is taking a slightly different tack, promoting Washington as a whole through a series of “virtual experiences.” The first video in that series, focusing on the history of Washington, is set to go live Sunday. A second video, currently in production, will highlight the North Carolina Estuarium.

“With these virtual experiences, we want them to keep us in mind when they are ready to travel,” Ruyle says. “If they’re not comfortable, they can still experience things about Washington without having to actually make the trip here.”

Though Ruyle says it may still be a few months before tourists are ready to return to Washington, she hopes the new video series will engage potential visitors and encourage them to come to town when the time is right. As staff moves into the next phase of marketing, they’re also working to instill a sense of confidence in the precautions local businesses are taking.

“We’re going to move into phase two, hopefully soon, with our marketing message to let people know, ‘We’re ready for you, but understand your safety concerns,’” Ruyle said. “It’s going to be George Washington social distancing. A local gentleman, Jeffery Phipps is going to dress up as George Washington, and we’re going to show potential visitors examples of how you can safely social distance when traveling to Washington.”

To keep up with the latest from the Chamber, visit www.wbcchamber.com or find them on Facebook @wbcchamber. To see what the WTDA is doing to market Washington, visit www.visitwashingtonnc.com or visit their Facebook page @visitlittlewashington. Videos can be viewed on each organization’s respective Facebook page.