TERRELL, Texas — The Terrell Chamber of Commerce has found innovative solutions to continue supporting Terrell area businesses during ever-changing local and state regulations and buying, eating, and entertainment habits of local residents brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Their most recent efforts, scholarship programs and support for Terrell ISD and its students and teachers, community beautification projects, and popular community events like the Christmas Parade, Terrell Jubilee, and Fourth of July events, among other things, are primarily funded by the chamber's annual civic auction — which, for the first time in its 39 years, has transitioned to an online bidding system.
Terrell Chamber of Commerce / CVB President and CEO Carlton Tidwell says this year's auction is especially important to the organization and its continued support of the community and its local businesses.
"After 38 years of successful in-person auctions, we had to make the difficult decision to switch to an online bidding format this year," stated Tidwell "We are so grateful for the incredible support of our sponsors, donors and volunteers. They know this event is important to the Chamber and important to the success of our community."
At the onset of the pandemic, the Terrell Chamber of Commerce created and maintained a COVID-19 Resources page on their website to provide area businesses with the latest information on local, state and federal orders, stimulus, financial assistance, and more. The chamber contacted and checked on its nearly 500 members, and other non-members for which they had contact information, to provide their resources, as need.
The chamber also produced a series of videos to promote small retail businesses and local restaurants, launched the Terrell Area Take-Out and Delivery Options Facebook Group which boasts a membership of 1,200, a COVID-19 Resources group, and purchased from local restaurants and promoted on various social media pages.
As state and local regulations seemingly changed weekly, the chamber sent out debriefs after nearly ever press conference by Governor Greg Abbott and sent out industry-specific Open Texas checklists to local businesses. Additionally, the chamber created posters for its member businesses to fulfill guidelines requiring posted health-safety policies upon their re-opening.
"The Terrell Chamber is an essential partner," stated Rosa Arellano of Los Hermanos Mexican Restaurant. "They especially showed off during COVID with their support of local businesses like ours."
"They went above and beyond, doing everything they could to promote Terrell businesses," she said. "We are so grateful for everything they have done to support us."
The Terrell Chamber of Commerce is a 501(c)6 non-profit organization and is 100% privately funded, therefore, was not eligible for COVID-19 PPP governmental loans for financial assistance — making the success of this year's auction critical to the organization and its community functions.
Typically, the chamber had upwards of 800 people attend their in-person auction each year — an attendance number chamber officials say was not likley feasible or responsible to gather in due to COVID-19 and social-distancing and gathering guidelines.
With the switch to an online bidding format, this year's auction will take place between Monday, October 12, 2020, and Saturday, October 17, 2020. Registration, which is open to anyone and free, can be done on the Terrell Chamber of Commerce's website, at www.TerrellTexas.com.
Just like the annual in-person auction, there will be a raffle, a silence auction, and a virtual auction for big-ticket items that normally would have been part of the live auction.
Raffle tickets are available for purchase now through Sunday, October 18, 2020, with a drawing on the evening of Monday, October 19, 2020. Tickets are $10 each and there will be four items in the raffle.
Items typically in the chamber's silent auction will be open for bid from Monday, October 12, until Friday, October 16. Item preview begins on October 5.
The big-ticket items part of the virtual auction will be one-day only, on Saturday, October 17, 2020. The chamber will produce and premiere a Facebook Live video on the day of the auction featuring the items up for bid that day. The video will include some other announcements, videos from sponsors, as well as auction information and bidding instructions.
This year's event is being co-chaired by chamber directors Jeff Smith and Wayne Babovec.
The auction is sponsored by AutoZone, JS Helwig & Son, Madix, Nucor, Oldcastle BuildingEnvelope, Platinum collection of dealerships, Film Alley - A Schulman Theatre, and U-Rent-It. The raffle is sponsored by American National Bank of Texas.