Mayor Kathy "Cargo" Rodeman was tired of seeing South Routt businesses, schools and others give year-end bonuses in the form of gift certificates good only at Steamboat Springs businesses.
It didn't make sense to her. Considering the variety of restaurants, stores and services offered in South Routt, "there's just so little you can't get here," Rodeman said.
So, Rodeman decided to do something about it. She created "Oak Creek Gift Certificates," good at almost all Oak Creek businesses. Rodeman's motivation to act quickly was to give the certificates to town employees for their year-end bonuses.
A simultaneous effort on the part of Karrie Littman, board member of the South Routt Economic Development Council, has resulted in "South Routt Bucs," which are redeemable at businesses throughout South Routt County that are members of the EDC. The idea for some sort of South Routt certificate or currency has been floating around for a while, she said.
"We've got some wonderful merchants with some really neat stores and were trying to promote all of our residents to go in and see their stores," Littman said. "Maybe visit stores you've never been to."
The new "currencies" are brightly colored and make nice looking gifts.
The certificates are green, yellow and blue, with a photo of the Flattops in the background and are sold in $10 increments. The "bucs" look more like colorful checks and are sold in $5 increments.
Each has a special stamp to ensure they aren't replicated.
Most important, both women agreed, the certificates and bucs help prevent funds from leaving town.
"It's an incredibly versatile gift that keeps the money here," Rodeman said.
The bucs and certificates are good for a range of services -- restaurant meals, massages, groceries -- and almost anything imaginable, including paying an electric bill to the town of Oak Creek. On the back of each certificate is a list of where it can be redeemed.
Because the currency is in small increments, it makes a great gift for neighbors and friends, Rodeman said.
The currency works using a simple system. A business buys a number of the certificates or bucs to sell, or a resident buys the money directly from the town, and that money goes into a bank account. When someone redeems a certificate or buc, the business brings the paper into the bank, and the money is transferred into the business' account.
There is no profit for anyone, Rodeman said. And there is no risk for participating businesses -- if their certificates or bucs don't sell, they can cash them in at the bank.
"Everyone that has talked to me about them at all is very, very excited," Rodeman said.
Norm Hoskinson, president of The Material Guys in Oak Creek, said he's had customers use the currency already.
"For a long time, the EDC up here has been trying to find some method that would stimulate sales local businesses," Hoskinson said. "This program seems to be helping that."
Eventually, there's hope that the two currencies could merge.
Rodeman and Littman agreed that the bottom-line benefit is more money that stays in the town.
"We're all small merchants at this end of the valley, and it's key that our community supports us so that we can continue to provide the services and products," Littman said.
Support from the South Routt community makes it possible for local businesses to thrive and last, she said.
And when the businesses already in the area do well, it is an attraction for other services and businesses to "venture our way," she said.
Rodeman said that using the certificates and bucs show support for the community.
"It's a definite way that each and every person that lives here can keep our town economy stimulated," Rodeman said.