If you haven't noticed, local merchants are gearing up to please consumers with an array of merchandise. Store windows are showing signs of the season; Christmas trees and snowflakes and snowmen are everywhere. It's hard to believe there are only a few weeks left to shop, and that Santa has already come and gone from Sherman Green.

When you do begin to think of gift buying, consider supporting your Fairfield merchants, either directly or through the chamber's gift certificate program, which allows the receiver to choose from a list of businesses. Many of Fairfield's restaurants and retailers are on the Chamber Bucks list.

We hope that you will agree to shop locally when you are reminded by the Shop Local Banners along the Post Road, beginning the first week in January. The banner program, in its third year, began in 2009 under the chairmanship of Jason Hyde, David Lerner Associates. Businesses were beginning to experience a difficult economy, and the marketing committee was searching for an idea that would support local folks and keep the money in Fairfield. The banners have been designed by Night & Day Media, a chamber member, and the program is open to members and nonmembers.

Also in January, Eric J. George of Connecticut Business & Industries Association is our guest speaker on Jan. 13. He will explain how the health care debate has evolved and bring you up-to-date on how health care legislation will affect state businesses and residents.

George is associate counsel for CBIA, the state's largest business organization with over 10,000 members. CBIA works to promote a healthy business climate which encourages economic growth and job creation in the state. He is also a member of the Connecticut Bar Association and a former member of the Connecticut Bar Association's House of Delegates. He received his Juris Doctor from the University of Connecticut School of Law.

The event, at 8 a.m. in the Fairfield Police Department Training Room, second floor, costs $10 and includes a continental breakfast. Reservations are required.

For more information on the Chamber Bucks, Shop Local Banners or health care presentation, call the chamber office at (203) 255-1011.

New members

James Bernhardt, CPA

191 Post Road West, Westport, CT 06880

The Plumed Serpent

Alison Fischer

295 Post Road E., Westport, CT 06880

D'Valda & Sirico Dance and Music Centre

Steve Sirico

1580 Post Rd., Fairfield, CT 06824