Twins Michael, front, and Noah Robinson, 7, shop with their mom, Jennifer, at Off the Beaten Path Bookstore in downtown Steamboat Springs. Off the Beaten Path is one of 57 stores participating in the holiday shopper reward program.

Photo by John F. Russell

Twins Michael, front, and Noah Robinson, 7, shop with their mom, Jennifer, at Off the Beaten Path Bookstore in downtown Steamboat Springs. Off the Beaten Path is one of 57 stores participating in the holiday shopper reward program.

Buy Local program well received in Steamboat

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— Several local business owners said the Buy Local holiday shopper reward program has increased traffic to their stores.

The program, created by the Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association, offered a $25 gift certificate to the first 25 people who presented receipts from participating local businesses totaling $250. The program has been so popular that the 25 certificates already have been claimed, and all but one of them has been redeemed, said Matt Wilcox, the Chamber’s membership services coordinator.

Shoppers who continue to take receipts to the Chamber totaling $250 will be eligible for the $100 grand prize gift certificate, which is redeemable at Chamber member businesses.

“People love it,” Wilcox said about the Buy Local program. “They think it’s a great way to get some cash back on their holiday shopping. We’ve had a lot of interest in it. It’s been very popular.”

Wilcox said the program, which started Nov. 25 and runs through Dec. 24, started to encourage residents to do their holiday shopping locally instead of online or out of town. He said 57 businesses — including restaurants, retail stores and service providers — are participating this year, up from 43 last year.

Some of the owners of those businesses said their customers took notice of the Buy Local campaign. Off the Beaten Path Bookstore owner Ron Krall said a few customers asked about the program before it started.

Krall said Off the Beaten Path participated in the program again this year not only to bring customers into the store but also because it was important for downtown.

“Part of what makes a community is the Main Street,” he said. “Go to any town, and what you see first is that Main Street. It attracts people to live here and work here. I think what we want to do is make that Main Street one that works for the whole community. It makes us happy to be here and be part of that Steamboat lifestyle. Buying from those Main Street stores is a part of that.”

Straightline Outdoor Sports co-owner Brett Lee said he hadn’t noticed a huge influx of customers as a result of Buy Local but said that’s not unusual. In his 25 years of downtown Steamboat retail experience, he said local shoppers tend to wait until the last few days before Christmas, and the visitors don’t come until after the holidays.

Still, Lee said Buy Local, which Straightline participated in last year, was a valuable program.

“I want to support anything that can help the downtown environment, promote shopping downtown,” he said. “We’ve been here in this spot 30 years. Anything that pushes people to downtown is good for all of us.”

Bette Vandahl, co-owner of 8th Street West, said the women’s clothing store also participated in the Buy Local program last year.

“I think it’s great to encourage local shopping,” she said. “There won’t be a local downtown if locals don’t shop.”

While many of the participants in Buy Local are downtown, some are located in other parts of Steamboat. The drawing for the $100 gift certificate hasn’t been scheduled.

To reach Jack Weinstein, call 970-871-4203 or email jweinstein@SteamboatToday.com

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