During the last shopping weekend before Christmas, local businesses and restaurants in Andover earned about $140,000 from a weekend shopping promotion, according to a press release from town officials.

In an effort to get people to shop local, a promotion was held from Thursday, Dec. 20 through Saturday, Dec. 22, which encouraged people to spend money to win raffle entries. The prizes for the raffles were large sums of money in the form of gift cards. A total of $4,500 was given out in the gift cards.

By spending a certain amount of money at local businesses, shoppers became eligible to earn raffle entries for the gift cards. The more money spent, the more raffle entries were earned.

Town officials said 41 businesses had customers visit throughout the weekend-long promotion.

The Sept. 13 gas explosions and fires caused by over-pressurized gas lines forced the closure of many area businesses and restaurants, some for several weeks.

In November, Columbia Gas granted each impacted municipality -- Lawrence, North Andover, and Andover -- $2 million to spend as they choose in an effort to support their local business communities. The shopping incentive was funded by that grant.

As businesses enter the recovery process following their re-openings, long-term struggles remain. The promotion aimed to patronize affected businesses and bring in clientele.

John Ingalls, owner of Palmer's restaurant on Elm Street, said his restaurant had a good weekend due to the shop local promotion.

"We had a decent amount of reservations, but also a lot of walk-ins," he said. "That proves to me that there were people around town that just decided to come in."

Ingalls said compared to this time of year in the past, his numbers were better.

"I'm very happy with the results of the promotion and the feedback from shoppers," said Ann Ormond, director of business, arts, and cultural development. "It gave our local businesses and restaurants the support they needed during this time, and it is something I would hope to do again in future years."

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