Shopping locally affects the community in a big way, especially during the holiday season.

The most significant economic boom for community businesses, besides "Black Friday," is happening this weekend when the 2019 Holiday Open House -- sponsored by both the Hopkins County Regional Chamber of Commerce and Independence Bank -- will be held Friday and Saturday at 65 participating businesses.

"This is to promote commerce in Hopkins County," said Chamber President Leslie Curneal. "We want to support our local business owners any way we can. This is our biggest 'Shop Local' event of the year."

The open house will provide two days of discounts and prizes for shoppers, said Curneal.

"Shopping small has a significant impact on our community, and when you support our local merchants, you help us build a better quality of life," she said.

Two hundred shoppers will have an opportunity to received a "Love Local" shopping tote full of discounts, gift cards and giveaways from close to 100 chamber businesses. Curneal said the total for all of the donated items was just above $212,000.

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"Some of these bags are valued at more than $500 when you take all of the donations combined and distribute them to over 200 bags," she said. "We have complimentary salon services, complimentary oil changes, lots of 20% off and 10% off discounts. There are Christmas ornaments, t-shirts, you might find a chamber check, and lots of $25 gift certificates to different places and different restaurants."

Bags are available to pick up at the North Main Street location of Independence Bank from 1 to 5 p.m. Thursday and from 8 a.m until supplies run out on Friday.

"Shoppers will be excited to discover what's inside," said Independence President Kent Mills. "It's a big event that we're able to partner with all the businesses in town. It's important that we partner with the chamber because they do so much for all of us."

The chamber is offering a "Passport to Savings" that allows shoppers to pick up a list of any participating business.

"This (passport) lists all of the businesses that are participating, their location, and what they offer this weekend," said Curneal. "For example, the Glema is doing a drawing for two everything tickets for spring 2020, plus both open house days and all remaining fall shows are 50% off, and that includes Hunter Hayes, that's a big deal."

Shoppers have the opportunity to get their passport stamped at chamber businesses. Once they collect 10 stamps, they fill out the information in the passport and drop off the entire passport into a registration box at participating companies.

"They fill this out and can register to win a $250 chamber check," Curneal said. There are five total chamber checks to win, with the aforementioned being the most expensive.

Chamber checks act just like money and can be spent at any of the over 200 businesses with the chamber, said Curneal.

When you shop local, you're investing your money back into the community, said the chamber's Operations Coordinator Houston Knox.

"The money, it's returned to the community," he said. "When I shop local at my favorite retailer here in Madisonville, that retailer's family is affected in a positive light. Then they can go and shop at their favorite retailer, and it continues to create positive repercussions through the whole city, and the whole county."

This is going to be the biggest year yet for the open house, said Knox.

"Our members have really come together to provide for the shoppers this weekend, and I think it's going to create a buzz throughout the whole holiday season."

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