‘Eat. Drink. Shop.’ Austin

Published 9:01 am Saturday, November 17, 2018

Eat. Drink. Shop. Austin.

Take a walk downtown and chances are you’ve seen those words on a red sign hanging in the window of a shop or restaurant or on a t-shirt worn by an employee at an Austin business.

With the holidays around the corner, area businesses are encouraging residents to spend their money at local establishments with the “Eat. Drink. Shop. Austin” initiative.

Lindsey Haney, owner of The Style Lounge on Main Street and member of the Downtown Business Association and Austin Area Chamber of Commerce board, is spearheading the initiative.

Style Lounge stylist Samantha Emmanuel colors a clients hair, wearing a Eat. Drink. Shop. Austin T-shirt. The initiative is to facilitate more local spending during the holiday season. Eric Johnson/photodesk@austindailyherald.com

“It’s something I’ve wanted to do for a really long time,” said Haney, who has been in business on Main Street for eight years. “Being a small business owner, I see the importance of it. The community has been super supportive of my business, and now I want to pay it forward and give back to the community.”

Haney said the initiative stemmed from ideas coming out of Christmas in the City.

“My thought was to make it more visible for people coming to Christmas in the City to start shopping local,” she said. “(Christmas in the City is) a great event, but nobody is really shopping and supporting the businesses during it.”

Haney came up with the idea for t-shirts to help promote the initiative. After pitching the idea to fellow board member Jackie Bumgardner of Games People Play, the t-shirts became a reality.

“I gave (Bumgardner) my ideas for the logo and she had somebody design it for us,” Haney said. “They were super generous with the t-shirts and giving them to us at a cost that was affordable that we could sell to other businesses.”

Lindsey Haney

Since last week, over 400 t-shirts have been sold, according to Haney. T-shirts can be purchased at The Style Lounge, the Austin Area Chamber of Commerce and Games People Play. The Austin High School CEO program is also selling t-shirts.

The Austin Area Chamber of Commerce also helped by contributing money toward the production of the t-shirts.

“Shop locally has always been an important message,” said Chamber of Commerce Director Sandy Forstner. “For years, we’ve had initiatives like ‘Buy Mower’ and ‘We are Austin.’ When you shop locally, the money stays here and supports our community and helps businesses grow. When you shop elsewhere, whether it’s online or in another community, that money helps them grow.”

Since the initiative began, other businesses have shown their support.

“It started out as a grassroots idea and so many people are getting on board,” Haney said. “It’s super exciting.”

With Black Friday less than a week away, the initiative is hoping to push the importance of shopping locally.

The Eat. Drink. Shop. Austin T-shirts are spreading the word and importance of shopping locally this holiday season. Eric Johnson/photodesk@austindailyherald.com

“This will be the fifth year my husband and I have committed to shopping only in Austin for Christmas,” Haney said. “It’s actually really fun; we do it all in one day and then we go play Bingo at the Eagles. It’s so important to keep your money in one place, especially where your home is. Because the community has supported The Style Lounge, I have been able to bring in some really great products that maybe wouldn’t have been offered in Austin before. You’re also supporting so many families. You don’t realize when you shop local how many families that affects.”

It is a sentiment with which Forstner agrees.

“We’re not saying spend every dime you have locally, but when you spend your money locally, you support the tax base and help businesses grow,” he said. “When you have a strong business community, good things happen. It enhances the quality of life for everyone.”

“The more we support each other, the more opportunities and different products you couldn’t find before will be available in Austin,” Haney said. “I think putting a camaraderie and pride back in this city that’s been missing for over 30 years, that’s what I’d like to see come out of this; bringing back that pride to Austin.”