NORTH ANDOVER (CBS) — A marketing campaign called Rock the Register was launched to help local businesses in Lawrence, North Andover, and Andover Tuesday. Ten months after the Merrimack Valley gas explosions, local politicians and businesses met to discuss the progress the region has made.
“For so many residents in Andover, Lawrence, and North Andover, when you can’t even take a shower at home or drop your kids off to daycare, the last thing people are thinking about is shopping locally. Our community was devastated and so were so many local, small, family-run businesses,” said Rose and Dove gift shop owner Kellee Twadelle.
She has been a business owner in North Andover since 2010.
“Although we were only technically closed for three days, the repercussions of that crisis continue today, ten months later,” Twadelle said.
The Rock the Register campaign will encourage people to return to and explore new local businesses through promotions. In a weekly sweepstake, one Merrimack Valley resident will also get $500 to shop local.
“One thing that businesses continue to respond as their biggest struggle is that their businesses are open again, their gas is back, their equipment has been replaced and to a great extent they have rehired staff but their customers are still not showing up like they once did,” Derek Mitchell of Lawrence Partnership said.
Rock the Register will have advertisements on radio, Spanish TV, magazines, and newspapers.
Sen. Lori Trahan took part in the announcement. “We all need to support our local businesses that have been for generations providing services that help our community thrive. The marketing campaign will serve as a reminder to our friends and to our family that the businesses here are open and back in business and they need all of our support,” she said.
“We’re going to get some money into the hands of the consumers and they can only spend it in the effected businesses,” Lawrence Mayor Dan Rivera explained. “They can go and spend 15 bucks for a hair cut, $30 to shop at a bodega or $25 to shop at a store like the one we are in front of now. A lot of positive things going here.”
More than 70 percent of the nearly 900 small businesses impacted have returned to pre-disaster conditions. For those that haven’t, Rivera said the small claims process is not complete yet either.
He also hoped the marketing campaign will help bridge the gap as well.
“People always ask, ‘is it over? Is everything fixed?’ I always tell people, I’m not sure that it’s going to be over until some of the last cars in the streets are fixed, but more important until people feel that they have been made whole.”
Twadelle said, “Small businesses are not faint at heart, we are not easily defeated, we’re knocked down but we’re not out.”