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By Connor Ashlock
The group that makes up the Shop the 618 collaborative is a big one, composed of Linn’s Shows, Second Time Around, Copper Nail Creek, Uncorked Spirit, Ivy and Blush, Deer Lane Boutique, Beyond the Backyard Gate, Espresso Yourself Bakery, The 80 Loft, Hideaway Trading Post, Sweet Pea’s, Julie’s Graphics, Farm Charm Living and Artisans Enigma— so, in short, they’re a force to be reckoned with.
This collection of individual businesses have been working together to contribute to one another’s success and has been doing so since October 2020, when they realized that they had to work together to make it through the COVID pandemic.
Nicole Cummings-McKenney, owner and operator of Deer Lane Boutique, explained that the group stresses a community-over-competition mindset.
“It has bonded us together in a way that’s been really wonderful for each of us as a business individually,” Cummings-McKenney said.
The Shop the 618 group is also committed to the City of Jerseyville and wants to see the local area flourish, not only economically, but also in generosity.
“One of the things we’re passionate about is giving back to the community and really rooting ourselves in ways other than just having our shops,” Cummings-McKenney said. “The Shop the 618 was a way to band together to do that, but events like this really give us ways to give back to the community in a giving spirit rather than retail spirit.”
One way in which the group is seeking to give back to the community involves partnering up with those whose main focus is caring for others.
The collaborative is partnering up with Janice Bowers-Arnold of Angel Ministries to host a PJ drive that will benefit children of the community who need some new pajamas this holiday season.
Cummings-McKenney shared that Deer Lane Boutique worked with Bowers-Arnold on this project last year, but this year, with over a dozen other businesses working together, she anticipates that supplying the need will be even easier.
“A portion of our sales percentage went toward buying as pay pajamas for kids in need through Angel Tree,” Cummings-McKenney, commenting on last year’s effort, said. “Janice gave me a list of sizes, so we were able to supply quite a few last year through Deer Lane alone, so this year, I thought the more the merrier. I pitched the idea to 618 and they loved the concept.”
The Shop the 618 group will be hosting the pajama drive from Tuesday, Nov. 16 through Saturday, Nov. 20.
The representative businesses will be dividing up which stores will be donating a portion of their proceeds on which day so as to ensure the giving is spread out equally.
To find out which shops are donating a portion of their proceeds on which day, Cummings-McKenney instructs folks to check out the Shop the 618 Facebook page, which will have all the details posted.
“We will also have cash donation jars at each stop, so whether you make a purchase that day or not, you can stop in and donate directly instead of making a purchase,” Cummings-McKenney said.
Since the group’s inception last year, Shop the 618 has been looking for ways in which it can benefit the community that supports its member businesses.
They also enjoy putting on special events, both as individual businesses and as a group, such as their upcoming Selfie Stop Challenge, which will be taking place during the Downtown Country Christmas Festival.
“It’s our hope that the community will be out on that day to support the local businesses and retailers, but it’s also another way to band the Shop the 618 together as a unit instead of each of us doing it individually on our own,” Cummings-McKenney said. “One of our main ideas with Shop the 618 is the concept of banding together.”
Cummings-McKenney noted that she hopes the local area will see this concept played out in their collaboration.
“If people can see that all of the local retailers can create in their own community a welcoming environment to come and shop in, they’ll feel free to go from shop to shop. We have their best interests at heart and we want to offer them the best items that we can,” Cummings-McKenney said.