Showing customers where to ‘Buy Missouri’

Randy Hurt crafts a piece of jewelry by hand for AVA Goldworks, the family business he owns with his wife, Debbie, and their daughter, Brandy. AVA Goldworks and American Decor are on the Buy Missouri business directory, which highlights businesses featuring 51% or more products made in Missouri. A recently-announced Retail Partnership phase of the program will feature business with at least five Missouri-made products.

HANNIBAL — The Buy Missouri Program has received renewed focus in Marion County, and the Hannibal Area Chamber of Commerce and the Hannibal Regional Economic Development Council working to expand the list of local businesses featuring goods and services from the Show-Me State.

To qualify for the Buy Missouri designation, a business must have 51% or more of its goods made in Missouri. Hannibal Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director McKenzie Disselhorst said two businesses in Marion County are currently in the Buy Missouri business directory — American Decor and AVA Goldworks. Debbie Hurt, who owns AVA Goldworks with her husband, Randy, and their daughter, Brandy, said they thought the program was a “perfect fit for us” when they signed up in January 2019.

“It’s natural to put yourself out there as much as you can, so our business can reach as many people as we can,” Hurt said. “I think people are much more aware nowadays about buying merchandise — any way you can support a local business, whether it’s in your hometown or in the same state — is a wonderful thing, or if it’s in the United States. Keep it local as you can, and keep it in America is a win, too.”

Mehaffy and Disselhorst echoed the sentiment about customers being more aware of supporting local businesses. As local businesses emerge from the downturn caused by the early stages of the coronavirus, Disselhorst said pandemic-related logistics like shipping delays and product shortages have made it more convenient for customers to support community businesses.

“I think it’s important right now to spotlight products that are made in Missouri, because we’ve seen an increase — I think largely thanks to the pandemic — in people wanting to support their local community and their local businesses, and find things that are made more locally,” Disselhorst said.

AVA Goldworks closed its brick-and-mortar store in 2019, and now operates through a website, avagoldworks.com, and Facebook page. Randy Hurt draws on 47 years of experience as a bench jeweler. He and his daughter, Brandy, craft each piece of jewelry by hand, including setting selected gemstones by hand. They have both won awards for their unique designs, and Debbie Hurt takes care of bookkeeping, ordering and other financial tasks, and Brandy Hurt is in charge of social media posts. Debbie Hurt said the Buy Missouri program is a “wonderful asset” to bring awareness about local businesses and their specialties.

Disselhorst said she is looking for businesses which would be a good fit, noting the program is gaining more steam after the early part of the pandemic.

Mehaffy said representatives from his office are reaching out to potential businesses as well.

“I think this is a great program. Anything that can help us market goods that are produced in Missouri to other states, and around the world, is helpful to our area businesses in a global economy,” Mehaffy said. “I am grateful to the State of Missouri, and in particular to the lieutenant governor’s office, for launching this program to assist Missouri businesses.”

Lt. Gov. Mike Kehoe announced a retail partnership phase for the Buy Missouri program in late November, which requires a business to sell a minimum of five items made in Missouri. With local outreach efforts well underway, the goal of bringing more of these businesses to the forefront leads to far-reaching benefits.

“The more we can support the people who are here and rely on the businesses that make things and provide goods and services locally, the more resilient we can be,” Disselhorst said. “(Buy Missouri) is a good place for them to highlight their business, and one more avenue for them to get the word out there and get their story out.”

More information is available from Disselhorst at 573-221-1101 or Mehaffy at 573-221-1033. Online registration forms for businesses and more details about the program are also available at buymissouri.net.

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