Steamboat Springs If you see people walking the streets of Steamboat this week wearing white buttons emblazoned with “I Shop Steamboat,” they’ve taken a pledge to do all or some of their holiday shopping in Steamboat Springs.
Buy Local: How shopping near your home keeps dollars in your community
Shop local events
■ Sweet Treats on Mainstreet, a chocolate tasting event, is from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday participating stores. The event is organized by Mainstreet Steamboat Springs to coincide with Small Business Saturday, which is sponsored by American Express.
■ The South Routt Economic Development Council is sponsoring a contest to encourage residents to shop in South Routt. Participants who turn in their receipts totaling $100 spent at South Routt businesses will be eligible to win a one-night stay and dinner at The Steamboat Grand and two lift tickets at Steamboat Ski Area. The drawing will be held on New Year-s Eve at Circle R in Oak Creek.
The push for local shopping this holiday season is a partnership among the Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association, Mainstreet Steamboat Springs, Steamboat Mountain Village Partnership and the Steamboat Pilot & Today.
It’s also part of a two-phase approach toward building awareness of how important local spending is to businesses in Routt County.
The Chamber’s board of directors made a local shopping campaign an objective for 2014, Chamber CEO Tom Kern said.
The direction was to revive and redesign a campaign that would stress to full-time and part-time residents why it’s important to buy locally.
The Chamber has decided to break that into two parts: holiday and year-round programs.
Pilot & Today Local Sales Manager Laura Tamucci said she decided to do all of her holiday shopping in Steamboat and found others wanted to do the same as she talked about the idea.
The I Shop Steamboat online pledge and coordinated campaign came out of that.
“I thought if we could get a large number of people to commit to shop locally, that would make a big impact for our businesses,” Tamucci wrote in an email. “We made the campaign fun with holiday-themed pictures of our celebrity shoppers because holiday shopping should ultimately be a fun experience.”
The Pilot & Today, Chamber and Mainstreet have partnered in the past on a local holiday shopping campaign, Tamucci wrote, and they had been discussing other options before settling on I Shop Steamboat.
Those who sign up at www.ishopsteamboat.com to shop locally are entered to win weekly prizes of Chamber Bucks and Downtown Dollars with a grand prize winner announced in December.
After the holiday program wraps up, the Chamber’s attention will turn toward developing a sustainable, long-term community awareness program to support local shopping.
The last local shopping campaign, which the Pilot & Today was involved in, dropped off as time passed and the effort behind it faded.
Kern said the Chamber has been tasked with figuring out a plan that would be sustainable for an extended period.
Mainstreet Manager Tracy Barnett said that the big push in the past was positive for local businesses and that establishing a year-round program would help during the offseason.
“When people buy locally, the revenue that purchase creates for a business owner stays in the community and recirculates,” Kern said.
Local purchasing, employee wages and owner profits are ways that money spent locally can find its way back into the community.
Shopping at businesses that pay local sales tax rather than spending online keeps more money in Steamboat, Kern said.
“None of those out-of-town sources contribute to our local economy,” Barnett said.
The most common definition of shopping locally tightens the scope to businesses that are owned or operated by people who live in Steamboat.
Profits from a chain business obviously head to its headquarters and the amount of local purchasing and giving likely is less, but chain stores employ people who live in Steamboat and pay local sales tax the same as businesses owned by Steamboat residents.
“I’d rather have someone choose to purchase things at Walmart in Steamboat than drive and purchase those things in another location,” Kern said.
The more residents and second-home owners can be educated about the positive impacts of spending locally, he said, it helps the community as a whole.
To reach Michael Schrantz, call 970-871-4206, email mschrantz@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @MLSchrantz
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