The Hay River Chamber of Commerce will be kicking off a new shop local campaign in the coming weeks, an initiative they hope will be free of cost for participating businesses.
“We want people to think about what’s available right here in Hay River,” said Chamber member Sherry DaRosa. “It’s an education campaign. Just because a business didn’t have something you were looking for last week, it doesn’t mean its owner didn’t hear you and didn’t get it in.”
The campaign is set to kick off Oct. 13 and run until Midnight Madness, a late-night shopping event to kick off the holidays, Nov. 21. The idea is to collect magnets at participating businesses, including retailers, restaurants and recreation services, to make a complete logo. Businesses can make it as easy or difficult to find those magnets as they like, which can then be submitted at the Chamber office in the Ptarmigan Inn building in exchange for a ballot. The winner will be drawn on Midnight Madness and will receive $1,000 in Chamber-dollars to spend in Hay River.
Chamber president Janet-Marie Fizer said in past draws they have issued regular cheques to winners only to see those dollars taken to Grande Prairie and spent there.
“It defeats the purpose,” she said. “We want that money spent here in Hay River.”
DaRosa said the goal of the campaign is to make people more aware of the impact their money has when it’s spent in town, as well as to just increase traffic to local stores, particularly in the run-up to the holiday shopping season.
“I just want people in here,” said DaRosa, who co-owns G&L Workwear. “Before they head out of town or to the Internet.”
DaRosa also noted the for every eight customers in her store from out of town, only one customer is a Hay River resident.
“That’s a trend I want to see reversed,” she said. “Why would people from out of town be coming in here and not locals?”
The campaign is set to cost $17,000 in all and the chamber has asked the municipality to fund close to $9,000 of that total. DaRosa said businesses have had a hard time this year and can’t afford to spend more money and that she hopes the town will support the initiative.
“It’s really good for the whole community,” she said. “If your businesses are healthy, they can put money back into the local economy and that’s good for everyone.”