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A Santa hat that speaks volumes

New business owner responsible for seasonal “Thank you” and shop local campaign
Marie Neys posed with a Santa hat as a part of the “thank you for buying local” campaign she ran this season with 39 local businesses.

Marie Neys says her idea for a campaign by local businesses in the run-up to the Christmas season hit her after seeing an ad in a local magazine with a woman holding a chalkboard sign that said, “Thank you for buying local.” Immediately, she floated her idea on the Bowen Business and Community Facebook group, and received an overwhelming response.

“I’m not a professional photographer or anything, and I made that clear, but I thought that if everyone involved took a photo with a Santa hat, it shows us all coming together to say thank you for shopping local,” says Neys. “I’ve learned a lot about photography since launching this, having taken more than 2,500 photos with my phone.”

Neys says she learned a lot about the island’s businesses, as well.

“I knew that Kate Hartle had a hair studio, for example, but I didn’t know about all the new products they carry,” she says. “Or The Sweet Stand, I know they made cakes and other treats, but I did not know about their syrups and other products they offer. The thank you campaign really morphed into a marketing campaign where the different businesses got to show off what they have to offer.”

Neys says that she hopes this inspires local business to work together more often.

“I’ve really noticed how businesses do this in other communities,” Neys says. “I was in Steveston in the fall, and it really looked as though the businesses worked together to decorate their shops and it made for a lovely experience being on the street. When I was in Austin, there was a campaign where the businesses had chalkboards with cheeky and creative slogans on them, and in Napa there are permanent signs with arrows that say, ‘Bakery, 0.2 miles.’ It provides a nice sense of cohesiveness, and I get the feeling the here on Bowen, businesses are really craving a greater sense of community.”

Neys says that some business owners have actually asked her if she would be interested in starting a local business association.

“It’s certainly something I would consider, but I have to get my own businesses up and running first,” she says.


Marie Neys, Emilie Kaplun and Pauulet Hohn will be launching the Catching Stars Gallery in the corner shop below the new pub building in the New Year.  Marie will also moving her framing business, Marie Neys Fine Art and Framing, into the space as well.