Hamilton Day now a four-night affair rallying around local and small businesses

A one day shopping event tagged as 'Hamilton Day' is a one day city-wide shopping event in support of local and small businesses.

An annual Chamber of Commerce initiative seeking the support of shoppers to aid local and small businesses while celebrating the city’s arts and culture sector is now a four-day celebration.

Chamber president Greg Dunnett said the decision to make Hamilton Day “bigger and better” was spurred on by the “thousand businesses” participating in last year’s single-day event.

“We had, last year, over a thousand businesses participating and literally thousands of Hamiltonians getting out to the streets and shopping and taking part in the pop-up markets,” Dunnett said.

The first two nights are highlighted by a live music series at multiple locations, with Saturday as “Shop Local Day” with over a thousand restaurants, retailers and services offering deals and giveaways.

Dwayne Gretzky at the music hall on Main Street West and the Hamilton Day Kickoff Party with Sonic Runway at Pier 8 along the Waterfront Trail are just a couple of the marquee events.

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Saturday will see free admission to the Art Gallery of Hamilton and pop-up artisan and farmers markets across the city.

Dunnett told Global News that Hamilton Day, whose roots go back almost 90 years, has always been a symbolic mechanism rallying residents to shop locally with micro, small and medium businesses to bolster the local economy.

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Recent inflation and the looming payback of the Canada Emergency Business Account make the next few months of holiday shopping even more crucial for a number of small businesses to buffer financial impacts, according to Dunnett.

“One of the messages that we always want to come out of Hamilton Day is that shopping local isn’t a one-day event,” he said.

“It’s something that we need to prioritize all year round. But this is a great way to kind of make us have a central focus on it.”

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The COC’s first Hamilton Day was in 1931, during the Great Depression, and was a one-day symbol of the city’s “rallying spirit” in what was then a time of an economic downturn that carried on for years.

The initiative encouraged Hamiltonians to visit small retail shops, cafes, restaurants, bars and theatres, among others.

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