Mercer County will be hosting the NATIONAL Special Olympic Games this JUNE. This is huge. This is huge in national recognition and this is huge in the number of visitors we will be seeing in our community. Estimates are that over 80,000 people will be flooding our roads and, according to the MidJersey Chamber, they’ll be adding $80 million to our economy.  New Jersey’s chapter of the Special Olympics has been located in Lawrence for years, but this year Rider University and TCNJ will open up their doors to tens of thousands of people from across the country, many of whom will be flown into Mercer Airport.

It’s wonderful news for our area and a great opportunity.  MercerMe put our thinking caps on and thought about what the week might look like for a family visiting us from out of state, never having seen Mercer County before.  What will they see?  How will they get around?  Where will they go?

We are a region of beautiful parks, museums and historic sites.  We have amazing restaurants, shops and small businesses.  We all know that because we live and work here.

But what about that family visiting from Kansas?  They don’t know us.  They’ll drive down route one and see Target.  They’ll see Chili’s and they’ll see Subway.  They’ll see chains, national brands and franchises – things they know and are familiar with. They have Pizza Hut in Kansas too.  That’s safe and easy.  Don’t get me wrong, we like these places too – but that’s not the best we have to offer.  That’s not us.

So we need to do something.  We need to make sure people know about our small, local treasures.  They need to find our boutiques, our cafes, our favorites – the real gems of Mercer County.

So MercerMe is launching a call-to-action for Mercer County residents to support, review and promote loved local business via social media and online review sites. Wouldn’t it be better for our community to benefit our local coffee and pizza shops, our cherished romantic dinner spots, our small artisan boutiques? This is our chance to show the rest of the country what we are made of and our chance to bolster small businesses.

WHEN? Right now.

Right now. Sure, Special Olympics is in June, but we have time to boost up our businesses online between now and then.

HOW? The easiest way.

When you go out for lunch with your co-workers, when you grab a slice of pizza for dinner (or a whole pie because who has time to cook every night?), take a minute. Take your smartphone and check-in with yelp or urban spoon, and then take one extra minute to review that business.  Chamber’s Walk certainly doesn’t have the name recognition of Outback, but if it has 100 reviews on Yelp. A small local business can compete with a national brand.

WHERE? Mercer County.

In Mercer County. Anywhere. Everywhere.

What’s MORE:

After you use Yelp or Urbanspoon, then TWEET about the business and what you’re doing. Get your friends and other people in your circle on board. And include:



Let your community and its businesses know that you support them.  MercerMe each week will be featuring businesses in organized #Yelpmobs, reminding you to help out and driving our local caravan of readers on a virtual door to door meetup.  #MercerGoLocal will be a chance to tell your neighbors about your undiscovered favorites and point our new friends to our mainstays.

This can be can be our welcome mat when the rest of the world comes knocking. Let’s make sure we look good and that visitors are knocking on the right doors.  Let’s have #MercerGoLocal.

Want to be featured in one of our #YelpMobs?  Want to help out?  We’re going to be rolling out some fun incentives to get people amped up. In the meantime, spread the word and let’s get started.


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Mary Galioto
Mary Galioto is the founder, publisher and editor of MercerMe. Originally from Brooklyn, Mary has progressively moved deeper and deeper into New Jersey, settling in the heart of the state: Mercer County. Formerly the author of an embarrassingly informal blog, Mary is a lifelong writer and asker of questions and was even mentioned, albeit briefly, in the New York Times and Washington Post. She holds a bachelor’s degree in English from SUNY Binghamton and a Juris Doctorate from Seton Hall Law School. In her free time, Mary fills her life with excessive self-reflection, creative endeavors, and photographing mushrooms. Mary also works as the PR Coordinator at the Hopewell Valley Arts Council, serves on the volunteer Board of Trustees of the Lawrence Hopewell Trail (LHT), holds a seat on the Hopewell Borough Board of Health, and is a member of the Hopewell Valley Municipal Alliance.