Fairfield ‘Mayors Tour’ highlighting local businesses could see a Season 2

Debby and Dan Ebben, owners of Swine City Brewing, are one of the 36 businesses profiled during Fairfield Mayor Steve Miller’s Mayor’s Tour. MICHAEL D. PITMAN/STAFF
Debby and Dan Ebben, owners of Swine City Brewing, are one of the 36 businesses profiled during Fairfield Mayor Steve Miller’s Mayor’s Tour. MICHAEL D. PITMAN/STAFF

What started out as an effort to feature some of Fairfield’s small businesses amid the novel coronavirus pandemic — including prizes and awarding a lunch with the mayor — turned into a roadshow featuring 36 of the city’s small businesses.

Now city leaders are planning for second season of the Facebook video series, said Mayor Steve Miller.

“Originally when we did this we wanted to get out and showcase or profile the small businesses that were affected by the coronavirus pandemic,” he said. “The whole goal was to get out there and to profile the businesses struggling during the pandemic.”

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Miller began on his personal Facebook page promoting local businesses as they were forced to shut down large parts of their operations as Ohio’s stay-at-home order was put in place. At the start of April, he announced his “Mayor’s Tour,” which ended last month.

The videos, which on average are 2 1/2 minutes, collectively have been viewed more than 95,000 times.

“We want to get out there to let people know who’s here, what they’re doing, maybe if they’re hiring,” said Miller. “It seems like a lot of people tuned in and watched these short videos on these local businesses, and we can only hope that it helped or made a difference, and that’s what it’s all about is trying to help these businesses.”

Swine City Brewing was one of those small businesses featured.

"We saw a lot of people we hadn't seen before," said Dan Ebben, who owns the brewery with his wife, Debby. "Now, we're seeing some of those who people didn't know who we were come back, and now they're regulars."

The Mayor’s Tour helped Swine City and other small businesses stay in business during the stay-at-home order that forced people to either work from home, see work hours drastically reduced or laid off. Ebben said there were a lot more to-go orders after his video with Miller.

“It’s nice to know Fairfield appreciates the businesses within the city,” he said.

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The video was a surprise for Bob Kelly, who works for his wife, Alyssa Kelly, at Furry Tails Pet Grooming on Pleasant Avenue.

Furry Tails was shut down for eight weeks starting on March 23.

“What we noticed afterward was an increase of the local shopping experience for the average,” said Kelly. “We really started to see the community wanting to shop local, and support locally owned businesses, and I think Mayor Miller’s videoes helped drive that (point) even more home.”

Reopened on May 12 and the customers were evenly split between new and existing customers. In June, the customer split was 63 percent new vs. 37 percent existing, and the vast majority live within 5 miles.

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Kelly said he's even been inspired by Miller's videos, purchasing gift cards from local businesses, like Berd's and McKinley's Pub as "thank you" gifts for patrons, and personally visited Keva Jewelry, also featured on Miller's tour.

“A tremendous help to the business. the mayor’s done tremendous things trying to get small business open.”

How a Mayor’s Tour 2.0 will look is yet to be determined, he said.

“We really have to sit down, meet and figure out what direction we’re going to go in with the next part of the tour,” said Miller, who’s term-limited at the end of 2021. “We’ve always said in Fairfield that we’re business-friendly, and this is a great way to show people we really are. We want to help our business any way that we can.”