The Christmas Star Program is well underway with 18 retailers who have signed on to make it a success. Weekly Draws for three $50 gift certificates, one draw of a $500 shopping spree, and a grand prize of $1,000 timed shopping spree are part of the reason local shoppers are hopping on the holiday train to trim the tree with local purchases.
Supporting local businesses should be a year round event and holiday initiatives such as Christmas Star which was created by the Columbia Valley Chamber of Commerce (CVCC) help engage the community during the prime shopping season.
“It’s important to keep businesses open in local neighbourhoods to keep the economy strong — the more people visit local stores the better it is for the community,” said Doug Cowan, past president of the Fairmont Business Association.
According to Mr. Cowan, the Valley has a good selection of products available here, and the cost-effectiveness of purchasing locally (think gas mileage) and time saved by staying in town to purchase goods and services is well worth it.
Mr. Cowan applauds initiatives like Christmas Star for promoting a sense of community and acknowledges the hard work that local businesses put into these events.
“The more people go, the bigger an event gets and that makes it worthwhile for the businesses who put the extra work in to making it happen,” he said.
Christmas Star is open to anyone shopping in the Valley and the rules of it are pretty lenient according to Kathy Tyson, visitor centre manager at the CVCC.
“For the participating businesses there are actual ballots and anyone (locals and non-locals) can go in, put their name on a ballot and drop it in the box with no purchase necessary,” said Ms. Tyson.
There are also fringe benefits to Christmas Star aside from promoting holiday cheer and savings. Purchases made at any Columbia Valley business, whether that business is a participant or not in the program can be used as a ballot entry for shoppers, simply by taking a picture of the receipt and emailing it to firstname.lastname@example.org, where the Chamber will enter that information onto a ballot.
Once the ballots are collected the draws will be made for the gift certificates ($50 weekly draw) and the shopping sprees ($500 and $1000) that can only be used at the 18 participating businesses. The business name goes on the back of the gift certificates and those gift certificates do not expire.
“By doing that we hope that people will use those gift certificates in those participating businesses. Once the gift certificates have been redeemed, the businesses can send them back to the Chamber for full reimbursement,” said Ms. Tyson.
For the $500 shopping spree the winner has to use it in one day in at least four different participating businesses and the $1000 shopping spree is a timed shopping spree of an hour at the participating businesses (travel time is not counted in that hour), according to Ms. Tyson.
“Basically the winners over the past couple of years have scouted the stores over the weekend after a Friday draw and the shopping spree falls on either the Monday or Tuesday, so they can decide what they are going to shop for,” said Ms. Tyson. There is a limit of $150 spent at each business.
Gift certificates are also available for purchase at the Chamber and people are invited to purchase them to be used at any participating retailers in the Christmas Star Program. For more information on how to get on board with the shopping opportunity of the season visit www.cvchamber.ca/christmas-star/.
Participating businesses include: Inside Edge Boutique & Sport, Copper Point Resort, Columbia Valley Spa & Wellness, Sobeys, Fusion Wellness Spa, Summit Footwear & Fashion, Main Street Fun & Games, Columbia Cycle & Ski, Elevation Massage & Spa, Valley Foods, Inspire Floral Boutique, Bird’s Eye Boutique, Kicking Horse Cafe, Invermere Canadian Tire, Healing Hollow Essential Oil Co., Invermere Liquor Store, Windermere Family Pantry Grocery and Liquor Store, and Avenue.