Publisher’s Perspective

Chad Koenen

The Fourth of July weekend has always been a bittersweet affair. 

On one hand the weekend is filled with festivities as we celebrate our Independence Day with fireworks, food and plenty of time with family and friends. 

On the other hand it seems like the Fourth of July weekend is essentially the pinnacle of our 12 weeks of summer in Minnesota. Once the weekend comes to a close it seems like summer is already singing its swan song.

Now I know we have plenty of summer left on tap with countless town celebrations, county fairs and plenty of time to head to the stores for back-to-school shopping, but one can’t help but feel like we are staring down Labor Day weekend and cooler temperatures. 

Right before the Fourth of July weekend we announced the winners of our fourth annual Fourth of July grill out giveaway. This year specifically, we heard quite a bit of confusion and misunderstanding about the promotion itself, so I wanted to just clarify a few things as we get ready for the end of summer

We started the Fourth of July promotion in 2020 in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic as many businesses were struggling with a dramatic decrease in business. The promotion was similar to one we had featured in the New York Mills Dispatch for several years around Easter. As part of that promotion we gave away an Easter ham at participating businesses. 

Our goal was to try to get people back in the doors of local businesses and remind area residents about the unique items that were available in their own backyards. Each person would need to cut out a “coupon” from the newspaper and drop it off at each of the participating businesses in the Fourth of July promotion. That way people would need to walk through the front door of businesses and be reintroduced to our wonderful local establishments. 

The other part of the promotion was to purchase all of the items included in the basket from local businesses. It wasn’t a ton of money, but purchasing 20 packages of buns or dozens of packages of brats, at a time when most people were scared to go out of their house, was a nice shot in the arm for some of our businesses.

In order to purchase the items in the basket, each participating business paid for an ad as part of the promotion. Businesses that purchased an ad received a plastic container that would allow people to register for a free Fourth of July basket given away on behalf of that business.

In some cases, a business gave us a discount for the items we purchased, but most of the time we just ordered the items and used the proceeds from the ads to buy the items locally. We firmly believe in shopping locally whenever possible and that is why we continue to purchase the items locally and not from a big box store. Money that is spent locally tends to stay locally, while money that is spent at a big box store is usually shipped out of town as quickly as it is placed in the register. 

We put each box of winning items together at the newspaper and have even enlisted the help of our children to put the baskets together each year. 

Due to the popularity of the promotion that first year, and seeing the benefit of continuing to promote locally, we have continued the Fourth of July giveaway even as the concerns over the COVID-19 pandemic have waned in recent months. We appreciate the support we have received by the businesses for sponsoring a Fourth of July basket, and for each of the promotions and ads they purchase throughout the year. 

This year especially we received a number of questions, or heard misinformation, about the promotion itself. 

  Here are the answers to some of the common questions we have heard over the past few weeks.

• Each basket is basically the same and included a bag of chips, brats, buns, baked beans and a 2-liter pop. 

• Businesses purchase an ad to be included in the promotion. We use that money to help and purchase the items at local businesses to include in the basket. No we do not make a small fortune on the Fourth of July giveaway, although I wish we did.

• We purchase a variety of flavors and items for each basket. Not everyone likes Mountain Dew or BBQ chips. For the best selection come right away to pick up your items at our newspaper office. We do not give gift certificates away for things like brats because we want to make this as user friendly as possible for our sponsors and businesses. We also want to highlight some of the unique items that are available in town.

As we head into the final weeks of summer I just want to thank again all of the businesses who participated in our Fourth of July giveaway and continue to support this publication through advertisements.