Vermont Businesses Double Down on Digital Presence This Holiday Season

Vermont Businesses Double Down on Digital Presence This Holiday Season

By Amy Spear, Vermont Chamber of Commerce

Every holiday season, restaurateurs, retailers, and other small businesses encourage customers to shop local, with the shopping season formally kicking off with Small Business Saturday. As COVID challenges continue to plague businesses in all areas of operation from employee recruitment to competition for sales against giant online marketers, Vermont’s small business community is getting creative and taking advantage of the digital marketplace.

As the Vice President of Tourism for the Vermont Chamber of Commerce, I’ve witnessed our members doubling down on digital engagement to compete this holiday season for job recruitment, customer retention and engagement, and creative purchasing opportunities. Vermont makers and merchants have embraced an innovative spirit to meet their challenges head on.

Whether it’s maintaining and building relationships with customers or helping shoppers to experience the wonder of Vermont in person, developing a robust online presence is not only convenient and entertaining, but also essential. As Vermont businesses are geared up to launch marketing campaigns with traditional paid ads supporting their local newspapers, radio, and television stations, they have also turned to social media tools to entice customers to buy products or visit their retail locations.

For example, digital innovations boosted Lawson’s Finest Liquids’ ability to build and maintain relationships with its customers. Lawson’s Finest is known for producing high-quality craft brews, like their Sip of Sunshine IPA and unique maple brews. But as they continue to build their brand and reach, they’re using Facebook Live to regularly host conversations with their customers and answer their questions. And they’re promoting their “Tuesday Tunes” and “Open Mic” nights via Facebook Events.

Additionally, at the pandemic onset, they pivoted to online sales through their website and developed a curbside pick-up service to support their retail business which made some customers more comfortable not to have to go into a retail outlet. Lawson’s Finest even used their digital communications channels to launch a brand-new brew – Little Sip IPA – during the pandemic. By using creative promotional giveaways and scavenger hunts they were able to connect directly with fans to encourage them to try their new beers.

As with many specialty food businesses, Lake Champlain Chocolates maintained operations throughout the pandemic, providing consistent employment for their long-time staff as well as continued support of the broader community by using locally sourced ingredients like Vermont honey and maple syrup in their handcrafted products. Lake Champlain Chocolates has been hosting virtual chocolate tastings via Zoom, something that has caught on with corporate groups. They added new digital features to their website to provide a better virtual shopping experience for their customers and are promoting “order online pick up in-store” purchases through local Google pay-per-click campaigns, OTT (over-the-top) advertising through streaming video, paid social media, and local digital advertising like Front Porch Forum.

Deploying marketing tactics over social media to attract new employees has also gained momentum, especially with holiday sales ramping up. There are many holiday season employment opportunities, and Vermont’s employers are turning to LinkedIn, Facebook Jobs, and Indeed to connect with job seekers.

Vermont’s businesses fuel our economy by offering quality goods and services while at the same time providing good-paying jobs. These employers also provide financial benefits that in turn help to create sustainable and engaging communities. Our hope is that this holiday season, and beyond, Vermonters and tourists alike go out of their way to support our local businesses as they are an integral part of our greater community.

While supporting Vermont’s retailers, restaurateurs, and other businesses during the pandemic has been incredibly important, it’s even more vital to support the surviving small businesses now. There are plenty of ways our small businesses offer virtual engagement and shopping, so go find them online. This holiday season, you can support Vermont businesses in person – or right from your home.

Amy Spear

 

Amy Spear, of Killington, is the Vice President of Tourism at the Vermont Chamber of Commerce, whose mission is focused on creating an economic climate conducive to business growth while enhancing Vermont’s quality of life.

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Feel Fall in Vermont

Feel Fall in Vermont

By Vermont Chamber Vice President of Tourism Amy Spear

Have you ever picked crisp apples fresh from an orchard, been surrounded by bright red and orange mountains, or hiked through a towering corn maze?

In Vermont, you can do all that and more on an ordinary fall day. This year, visitors can enjoy the season in a distinctly Vermont way – with activities and attractions that draw in people from around the globe.

Our state has options everyone will love.

  • Delicious food and drink

After shopping and cider sampling at Cold Hollow Cider Mill in Waterbury, enjoy a meal at Apple Core Luncheonette & Brew, which offers homemade breakfast and lunch seven days a week.

Stop by Citizen Cider’s Tasting Room in Burlington for flagship hard ciders and seasonal limited releases, all made from apples sourced locally. The full food menu has something for everyone, featuring items made with their infamous cider.

  • Stay somewhere serene

The Essex Resort & Spa, a centrally located luxury resort, is the perfect home-base for exploring Vermont in the fall from north to south. End the day at on-site restaurants or spend an afternoon unwinding at the spa.

Or stay at Manchester’s Equinox Golf Resort & Spa. Located in the heart of the Green Mountains, this iconic resort is steeped in history. Surrounded by natural landscapes, this destination is beautiful in every season, but is especially stunning during fall.

  • Get active in fresh air

Featuring one of the best corn mazes in the state, kids and adults of all ages enjoy hiking through the towering corn at Hathaway Farm in Rutland and the challenge of solving a maze.

Shelburne Orchards

Enjoy apple picking and cider donuts while taking in the view of Lake Champlain on Shelburne Orchards’ 60-acre family owned and operated apple orchard.

You can also use our trip planning tool at VermontVacation.com to narrow your search and discover unique accommodations, restaurants, attractions, and recreation.

If you’re traveling, why not visit the most vaccinated state in the country?

Last month, Vermont had the highest vaccination rate in the country. If you’re going to travel this fall, why not come to one of the safest states in the nation?

Vermont has a tradition of welcoming visitors to our state. In the wake of Covid-19, the state continues to offer safe travel guidance to visitors and Vermonters. Before you come, take a few minutes to learn what our state leaders are recommending regarding masking and physical distancing.

Community care is at the heart of Vermont life. When you visit, we know you’ll feel the Vermonter spirit in our safety measures and in every smile and wave.

While you stay, play with us by sharing on social media with hashtags #ThisIsVT and #VermontFall.

We would love to see and share your photos this fall. The Vermont Chamber of Commerce tourism team will share your Instagram posts in our stories from our Visit Vermont account.

We’ll also be creating an album with your photos on our Facebook page.

Every year, Vermont sees more than 13 million visitors to the state.

As you plan your visit, be sure to check your plans carefully by reading updates on lodging and business websites. Due to staffing shortages, their hours of operation and policies may have changed.

We are so excited to welcome you to Vermont.

Amy Spear, of Killington, is the Vice President of Tourism at the Vermont Chamber of Commerce, whose mission is focused on creating an economic climate conducive to business growth while enhancing Vermont’s quality of life.

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Get Cozy, Light a Fire, and Shop Vermont This Holiday Season

Get Cozy, Light a Fire, and Shop Vermont This Holiday Season
Sun and Ski Inn
Photo by Stowe Beautiful
Vermont’s mountains are covered with snow, wood smoke is rising from chimneys, and holiday lights are brightening towns and cities across our state.
As the holiday spirit fills Vermont this December, we encourage you to shop local for your gifts. Local businesses are struggling because of the public health crisis. Your gift-giving this winter can support Vermont businesses while you buy high-quality and thoughtful presents. The Vermont Chamber of Commerce and Vermont Attractions Association have collected gift ideas for you to consider this winter:
Picture Photo from Danforth Pewter
Gifts Handmade in Vermont A selection from Bennington Potters cookware or dining pieces is the perfect accompaniment to homemade meals. Glassware and decor from Simon Pearce will add subtle shine and sparkle to any home. Give the gift of Christmas with ornaments, nativities, and decorations from Christmas Days. Shop locally sourced and made silk scarves, pottery, and jewelry at Artisans Hand. Find something for everyone on your list at Vermont Country Store, one of Vermont’s most iconic shopping experiences. Get custom sculptures and art from Stone Revival Gallery or shop their handmade collections of fine art and décor. Pewter décor or jewelry from Danforth Pewter make the perfect heirloom gift. Clothing and Accessories Give the ultimate gift of comfort with sleepwear, blankets, or clothing from Vermont Flannel. Shop premium Merino Wool socks from Darn Tough, perfect for outdoor adventures or staying warm at home. Find unique clothing and accessory items for the trendy women in your life at Fat Hat Clothing. The updated basics or luxe loungewear from Commando are perfect for comfortably staying in or going out.

Picture Photo from King Arthur Baking
Food Support restaurants in your neighborhood by purchasing gift cards for your loved ones. Shop King Arthur Baking for the baking mixes and tools every home baker needs. Give the gift of maple with Sugarbush Cheese & Maple Farm’s edible gift boxes, or gift pancake mix, maple products, and berry syrups from Maple Grove Farms. Satisfy your loved one’s sweet tooth with Lake Champlain Chocolates’ specialty chocolates and Christmas truffles, or Snowflake Chocolates’ popcorn, brittles, and chocolate snowflakes. You’re bound to find something for every foodie in your life at Stowe Mercantile, with their selection of handmade fudge, maple products, specialty products, and more. Vermont Ski Staycation Ski resorts are implementing extra health and safety measures so that everyone, from guests to their communities at large, stays healthy. State guidance considers industry best practices, CDC guidance, and state regulations. Ski with peace of mind and enjoy the snow at these Vermont ski areas:
Use Ski Vermont’s 2020 Holiday Gift Guide to plan your Vermont staycation. You can find more Vermont businesses to support using our categorized Vermont Chamber member directory or by browsing through our Stay & Play Directory. Have a happy holiday season and thank you for shopping Vermont.
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Satisfying Socially Distant Ways to Enjoy Vermont This Fall

Satisfying Socially Distant Ways to Enjoy Vermont This Fall

By Amy Spear, Vermont Chamber of Commerce Vice President of Tourism

Vermont’s mountains and countrysides will soon be ablaze with vibrant reds, oranges, and yellows. Our hospitality businesses and attractions have implemented thorough safety measures so Vermonters and visitors can enjoy the state in both new and familiar ways. 

While Vermont is known as a visitor paradise, many Vermonters also look forward to this time of year when our state shows off its colorful splendor. While we are facing unique challenges this year because of the pandemic, it is more important than ever to support our local inns and lodges, restaurants, and small Vermont businesses.

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Photo by Sally Cooper

​With public health top of mind, Vermont is the perfect place to enjoy fall safely. From breathtaking vistas and fall activities to world-class inns and restaurants, there is plenty to explore and rediscover.

Here are a few of our team’s favorite ways to enjoy foliage season.

See the Best Autumn Foliage
You can see the best fall foliage in the country in Vermont. Stowe was just named a USA Today Top 10 fall foliage destination. Spots heralded for their unparalleled views include Smuggler’s Notch in Lamoille County, the Mount Equinox Skyline Drive in Sunderland, Lake Willoughby in the Northeast Kingdom, and Sleepy Hollow Farm in Woodstock. The Vermont Department of Tourism and Marketing put together a fall foliage roadmap, which helps with travel planning. Also check out fall foliage photography tips from New England photographer David Long, collected by Go Stowe.


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Photo from Cold Hollow Cider Mill

Go Apple Picking 
Vermont’s apples and (apple goods) are exceptional – from fresh cider donuts to sweet Honeycrisp apples right from the tree. Vermonters and visitors alike enjoy picking their own fruit in our state’s serene orchards and treating themselves to fresh apple cider. Here are a handful of special New England apple recipes. Notable destinations for apple picking and fall treats are Champlain Orchards in Shoreham, Paul Mazza’s Fruit and Vegetable Stand in Essex Junction and Colchester, and Cold Hollow Cider Mill in Waterbury.

Explore Corn Mazes 
Corn mazes are perfect for getting outside, feeling the crisp fall weather, and staying safe while experiencing the season. Two of the best corn mazes in Vermont (and possibly New England) are at Hathaway Farm in Rutland and the Great Vermont Corn Maze in Danville. My husband and I brought our 1-year-old daughter to Hathaway Farm’s corn maze last weekend and had a wonderful time! Kids of all ages appreciate playfully hiking through towering corn and the challenge of solving a maze.

Take a New England Staycation
Vermont’s inns and lodges are now able to book at 100 percent capacity. As you plan a New England staycation, a few inns to consider that have stunning views and offer memorable experiences are The Essex Resort & Spa in Essex Junction, Stratton Mountain Resort near Manchester, Tyler Place Family Resort in Swanton, and The Lodge at Spruce PeakYou can use our trip planning tool at VermontVacation.com to narrow your search and discover unique accommodations, restaurants, attractions, and recreation.

And if you cannot take a trip to Vermont because of health or travel limits, you can always bring Vermont into your home. Indulge in distinctive Vermont fall foods by ordering autumn chocolates from Lake Champlain Chocolates, buttermilk pancakes and pure Vermont maple syrup from Dakin Farm, candy, savory food, and maple candles from the Vermont Country Store, or a delicious Vermont gift box from Bragg Farm Sugarhouse.

This pandemic has impacted us in so many ways, but with these recommendations you can still experience the best time of the year in Vermont. Remember to wear a mask, keep six feet apart, wash your hands, and take lots of pictures.

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