WILMINGTON- While shoppers lined up at the big-box stores early Friday morning, local proprietors and shoppers alike took advantage of a new shop-local, shop-small campaign spearheaded by Wilmington Works, that gave shoppers incentive to stop into local stores they might usually just drive past.
The Vermont Downtown program runs a 50-50 campaign each year that encourages shoppers to do at least half of their holiday shopping locally. According to Civics Economics, a strategic planning firm based in Austin, TX, 68 cents of every dollar spent at a small business stays within the community, while 46 cents of every dollar is kept by large retail chains. Wilmington Works wanted to take part in the 50-50 campaign, but decided to do their own spinoff of the program, creating a holiday season coupon promotion.
Every time a shopper spends $10 at a downtown business, they can turn the receipt in at the Mount Snow Valley Chamber of Commerce, and receive a $5 coupon toward their next purchase at any store. Each person who turns in a $10 receipt also has five tickets entered into a raffle of $500. Over the past weekend, more than 450 of the 900 coupons made had been used, and are continuing to be used midweek. Funding for the coupons was made possible by the Wilmington Fund VT, which provided a $5,000 donation. Business owners will be able to redeem each $5 coupon for its full value, creating a win-win for the shopkeeper and the consumer.
“People know shopping local matters,” said Lisa Sullivan, Wilmington Works co-chair. “It helps stores, helps the community, and it gets people shopping in the stores they don’t always go in.” As owner of Bartleby’s Books on West Main Street, Sullivan knows firsthand the effect local shopping has on businesses. “This is the time of year when many shopkeepers are really trying to make some money. It’s also a time when you’re buying gifts that you might not buy on a daily basis, and a great time to remind people of the great gift ideas we have here in Wilmington.”
Wilmington Works is also encouraging locals to take the 50-50 pledge at their website, wilmingtonworksvt.com, where each individual who signs up will be entered to win a gift basket of Wilmington products. Coupons are redeemable at any of the village’s restaurants as well.
Nancy Logan, owner of Wilmington Candle Company on West Main Street, said that the downtown was busy all Thanksgiving weekend. “The whole weekend was great,” said Logan. “My numbers were good, and I was actually surprised a few coupons were used here. It’s not money coming out of my pocket, and that’s important for a smaller business owner, and it makes you think twice about spending the gas money and going to Keene. We might be a little more expensive, but this equals out things a little.”
Vermont Bowl Company, located a little farther up the road, experienced a busy weekend as well, receiving five of the $5 coupons within one day. According to employee Stacy Ellis, Friday and Saturday were much busier then past Thanksgiving weekends. “There’s people that stopped into one shop to get something, found out about this, brought their receipt over, got their coupon, and said ‘Now I have to shop again,’” said Adam Grinold, executive director of the Mount Snow Valley Chamber of Commerce. “They end up coming in four times and say ‘We’re back, we can’t stop.’ We, as a valley, should think of a way to make this happen throughout the entire valley. People are a little burned out by consumerism and are trying to connect with locally-made items you can’t buy online.”
Wilmington Work’s coupons are on a first come, first serve basis, the promotion lasting until Christmas Eve. For more information visit wilmingtonworksvt.com.