ARROYO GRANDE, Calif. -- An annual tradition in the Village of Arroyo Grande begins today with a dramatically modified format.
"Elegant Christmas in the Village" is typically a one-night shopping event, but this year, due to COVID-19, it has been transformed into a month-long experience.
"Usually, there are thousands of people here each year," said Jocelyn Brennan, South County Chambers of Commerce President/CEO. "But we can't do that this year."
The event is an effort to help support local businesses, which is being emphasized this year due to the many challenges the pandemic has created.
"It's so important to receive support because we need it," said Dianne Quintana, Lady Di's Boutique owner. "With COVID, and the numbers rising, we do need people coming out to support our businesses. People are losing their business. They're losing money and it's a hard and we can really, really use your support."
Business owners are grateful the event is continuing and will help incentivize community members to spend their money at locally-owned shops and stores.
"I think it's great, especially this year, all the business owners need help," said Hello Village owner Krista Bandy. "Things are so different, so doing it a month-long, is definitely better than just having a one-night thing. This gets people down here and more and hopefully they're willing to spend their money everywhere down here."
To encourage shoppers to spend their money in the Village, they'll have an opportunity to win valuable prizes through an online promotion.
"You can win a prize by dining in the Village, wine tasting, shopping, tag the business, tag the Chamber and you'll be entered to win," said Brennan, "We'll give prizes away every Sunday and we have some amazing prizes."
To be eligible, shoppers will need to make purchases in the Village at any time during the December, and then post a photo on Facebook or Instagram with the hashtag #Love4Local and tag @VisitArroyoGrande, @SouthCountyChambers.
Prizes include gift cards, meals at Village restaurants, as well as a staycation package.
"I do frequent a lot of the shops here, so I think it's great," said Arroyo Grande resident Michelle Rogers. "It's a great way for them to still kind of be alive during this time, so yeah, I'll definitely be taking advantage of that."
An additional promotion is the "Rooster Scavenger Hunt," which will give shoppers another way to win a prize.
Participants will need post a photo with a stuffed rooster that will be hidden in a Village business and include the hashtag and tags of the Elegant Christmas promotion.
Winners will be announced every Sunday in December on the South County Chambers Facebook and Instagram pages.
"Christmastime in the Village is awesome," said Quintana. "It's beautiful. The lights are out. You have that atmosphere of it's time to celebrate and it's fun. Just to see the lights and driving by and see Christmas lights, it's beautiful and each store has it's own Christmas theme."
Shoppers are encouraged to wear a mask in public places and observe all safety protocols, including physical distancing.
Store owners will be complying with COVID-19 guidelines and capacity limits.
"Come down and enjoy the small town feel," said Bandy. "I think all the business owners here are grateful for you. Come and enjoy us with open arms, but we won't give you a hug you. We'll give you a fist bump in the air.."
For more information, visit southcountychambers.com, or call (805) 489-1488.