BANKS IT  Christmas Star winner Robyn Oliver used $150 of her prize to purchase AG Valley Foods gift certificates for the local food bank. Photo by Dean Midyette

BANKS IT Christmas Star winner Robyn Oliver used $150 of her prize to purchase AG Valley Foods gift certificates for the local food bank. Photo by Dean Midyette

By Dean Midyette

Pioneer Publisher

This years Columbia Valley Chamber of Commerce Christmas Star $1,000 shopping spree winner was Robyn Oliver, who teaches art at David Thompson Secondary School. While on her whirlwind shopping spree, Robyn was accompanied by her shopping buddy Angel Christensen, Chamber executive director Susan Clovechok and Pioneer/Echo publisher Dean Midyette. The foursome departed from the Chamber offices shortly after noon on December 21st and began by heading north to shop at the Radium PetroCan.

As the winner was limited to an hour of in-store shopping, Robyn was well-organized and purchased her goodies followed by a photo with PetroCan owner Kerry Ellingboe in just a couple of minutes.

My goal today is to spend over $1,000, said Robyn as she departed for her chosen retailers in downtown Invermere. Her first Invermere stop was AG Valley Foods where she purchased $150 in gift cards, then donated her purchase to the Columbia Valley Food Bank. I chose to make the donation to the Food Bank as a way to give back and this was the perfect opportunity.

Robyn also made stops at Ambiente, Main Street Fun and Games, Summit Footwear and Inside Edge before leaving Invermere for the Windermere Family Pantry and La Galeria II in Fairmont.

It was a lot of fun to be able to visit the various businesses and when youre spending someone elses money, you dont feel as guilty, she said. It gave me a chance to pick up a couple of extravagant gifts that I normally wouldnt buy. It also got me to shop in outlying communities that I dont normally shop in.

Susan Clovechok noted that this years winners were genuinely excited and appreciative, and that the exposure given to participating retailers through this promotion is exponential since winners share their experience with their friends.

The $500 and $1,000 shopping spree winners were both locals yet they both acknowledge how great it was to go to retailers they wouldnt normally visit and see what a wide rage of items are available, said Susan.

The Columbia Valley Chamber of Commerce will continue to promote retailers who participated in the Christmas Star promotion by selling $10 gift certificates at the Chamber building-Visitor Centre located on the highway near the entrance to Copper Point Golf Course.

The Christmas Star program is a fun positive way to encourage shopping local and organizers would like to thank everyone who entered and made a special effort to support our amazing local businesses. Susan also made sure to thank Beth Neale of Rainbow Donkey for getting the program up and running again this year.

As her shopping spree concluded, Robyn noted: What an amazing opportunity that the Chamber of Commerce has organized. I do make a point of shopping local and I feel this is a great way to reward locals who support community merchants.