By Joe Boyle
The Hills Chamber of Commerce has plans to celebrate the "End of Summer."
Members are kicking off a promotion in Hickory Hills and Palos Hills to help the small business community during the COVID-19 pandemic.
"We got the idea from the Evergreen Park Chamber," said Teresa Stack, who serves as the secretary for the Hills Chamber. "They did it during the holidays last year and we thought we could do something now. We just changed it to the summer."
The promotion will continue through Sept. 25. Shoppers are required to spend $10 or more at three participating businesses each week to qualify for the chamber's weekly raffle. Each week of the campaign, the Hills Chamber will choose one dedicated shopper to win a $30 gift card to a local chamber member business.
Stack said this has been a difficult period that has hampered businesses severely in both Hickory Hills and Palos Hills. She mentioned that one restaurant has lost 80 percent of their business during the pandemic.
"I think the restaurants have been hit the hardest," Stack said. "One restaurant owner is concerned for the employees. Many of them are kids and they have bills and many of them have to buy books for school. It is difficult for everyone."
Stack added that the promotion just began Saturday so she does not have an idea yet of a response. Her hope is that people will get involved and sign up to not only assist local businesses, but to win some prizes as well.
"I will just keep promoting this idea with both cities," Stack said. "We will just keep coming up with ideas."
The winners will be posted every Saturday on the chamber's website and Facebook page at facebook.com/thehillschamberofcommerce.
Stack is hoping that the words spreads quickly about the End of Summer Shopping Contest. Ald. Brian Waight (1st) mentioned the End of Summer promotion during the Hickory Hills City Council meeting held last Thursday night.
The chamber secretary is aware that the uptick in reports of COVID-19 in Illinois may accelerate in the fall. She believes it is more important than ever to assist businesses and provide some confidence for the residents of Hickory Hills and Palos Hills.
"In terms of the End of Summer Contest, we might try it again for the holidays," Stack said. "Many people would like to provide gifts and gift cards. I think that could work."
While members of the Hills Chamber don't want to look to far in the future, Stack would like to see some better prospects in 2021.
"Again, this has been difficult for everybody," Stack said. "We would like to be able to do more next year."
Stack said the cancellation of the chamber's annual Business and Community Expo that usually takes place in the Conrady Junior High School gym each spring was a major disappointment.
"That was really tough," Stack said. "That is our major fundraiser of the year and it is well received. It's hard to raise funds when you have a 50-person limit. But we are just keeping our fingers crossed about the End of Summer Contest. We are just going to keep trying. Hopefully, things will be better next year."
Businesses and residents can visit the chamber's website at www.thehillschamber.org on how to enter. Any questions or more information can be obtained by calling (708) 372-2927 or email the chamber directly at email@example.com.