Shop local campaign hopes to preserve community

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FENTRESS COUNTY, Tenn. (WVLT) - Many in Fentress County must commute out daily for work. Now, the Chamber of Commerce is asking them to do their shopping at home instead of stopping off in the larger counties where they work.

"Shop Fentress First" is just another version of the shop local campaign the county's tried to get a grip on for years. Starting first as a holiday shopping program transformed to a coupon redemption one, the program's made a lot of strides.

"I've always been a believer that one of the quickest ways we can help the economy here in the county is to get people who live here to spend their money in the county rather than shopping elsewhere," said the Fentress County Chamber of Commerce executive director Walt Page.

Store owners agree.

"As long as people are shopping with us and we can keep our doors open then we can help the community," said Merle Norman coowner Denise Williams.

Williams and her mom and sister have had their doors opened for years.

"We have some very loyal customers. That's why we've been able to survive all the economic ups and downs over the last 26 years," said Williams.

Those customers say shopping local is their own way of preserving the community.

"You see where some of the other businesses were and there not there anymore and some of the bigger places take over and you kind of hate to see that, in a sense," said Stacy Stephens.

The Chamber's next plan is to start a cash mob to boost local restaurants.