Anne Paparella has been serving as the executive director of the Lancaster by the Bay Chamber since the spring of 2014. A previous small business owner who participated in Shop Local Day as a merchant, Paparella has a great perspective on the importance of shopping local.
Chesapeake Bank: What is your role with the Chamber? How long have you been there and are there any facts about the Lancaster Chamber you would like to share?
Paparella: I am the executive director of the Lancaster by the Bay Chamber of Commerce. I started working for the Lancaster Chamber this spring. I have lived and raised four children in this county for the last 22 years. The Lancaster by the Bay Chamber has about 245 members and is growing. We have several events we put on each year from RiverRide, a bicycling event, to Taste by the Bay, a food, wine, craft beer and artisan event at the Tides Inn, and The Parade of Homes, showcasing our local builders. We host Kandy for Kids, a trick or treating event, and the Lighted Christmas Parade is in its 36th year. It is a very active chamber of commerce!
Chesapeake Bank: From your experience in small business as well as your current work with the Chamber, I’m sure you have some perspective on the impact shopping locally has on businesses and the overall community. Why do you think shopping local is important?
Paparella: I have worked in retail most of my working career. I co-owned a gift shop call The Box Boutique in White Stone. We called ourselves a hardware store for women with all kinds of girly gifts including lingerie, pajamas, and purses. If it was fun and funky, you could find it at The Box. We also specialized in affordable gifts. I loved every bit of it, from the buying to the display. I especially loved the interaction with our customers. Often, our customers would just stop by to have a conversation or tell us something that was exciting or sad in their lives. We were a gathering place for people. Most of my customers became my good friends.
I definitely understand the impact of shopping local. The summer months, in this area especially, are filled with visitors and river guests, but the spring and winters can be very quiet. I think the Shop Local campaign reminds people how important it is to shop local businesses first before you go out of town. Being a small business owner is challenging. It is not enough to have cute things or great food, you had to have great displays and great customer service. Quite often one person has to do it all for their business. The Shop Local campaign helps you to realize you are not in it alone.
Chesapeake Bank: What kind of impact has the Shop Local initiative had in the Lancaster community and on the Chamber? Do you think it has helped generate more awareness and support for local businesses? Do you see more local businesses working together and supporting each other?
Paparella: I definitely think you have the merchants working together. Often the merchants will direct their customers to other businesses to help them find what they are looking for. I have, as chamber director and a business owner, been part of discussions with other merchants to generate ideas on how to create excitement and bring more business to the area.
I love that my job allows me to promote businesses in this area. The more unusual shops we have the more attractive the area becomes for visitors. We have such a unique shopping and dining culture here; adorable boutiques and gourmet restaurants. There is something for everyone in this small area. I am grateful that Chesapeake Bank has promoted this shop local campaign. I think it shows the businesses that they are not alone. We are fortunate to have local banks that are so invested and care so much about this area.