Program antes up to bolster local shopping

The Chamber will hold weekly drawings for those who turn in receipts and business cards from member stores.

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WALLA WALLA -- The Walla Walla Valley Chamber of Commerce is enticing consumers to keep their dollars in the community by offering a chance to get some of them back.

Over the next three weeks, the Chamber will hold Friday drawings to award $100 for those who turn in receipts and business cards from its member stores. The first such drawing will take place this week.

The "Keep it Home for the Holidays" campaign launched Monday as a way to promote local shopping, said Chamber President and Chief Executive Officer David Woolson.

He said the purpose of the campaign is twofold. Not only does it provide a membership service for participating businesses, it serves as a reminder to the public that money spent in local stores represents an investment in the community. More than 70 cents of every $1 spent in the community stays in the local economy, Woolson said.

The money helps fund services paid for through taxes and levies, such as for schools and city services, and also helps the sustainability and potential growth of the individual businesses, whether through expanded services or employment.

"It's the multiplier effect," Woolson said. "Money begets money. That local retailer then has the purchasing power to look either at adding staff or even their own personal purchases."

The timing of the campaign comes during one of the busiest stretches for consumer spending.

"From Black Friday through the after-Christmas sales is such a major chunk of revenues for Chamber members and other businesses," Woolson said.

Here's how the promotion works: Consumers who visit a Chamber-member business can submit to the Chamber a receipt (or copy of a receipt) from their purchase or a business card from the shop with their name and contact information on the back. Every Friday for the next three weeks the Chamber will draw a name from the receipts and business cards submitted. The winner will receive $100 from the Chamber.

"Certainly the money will be theirs to spend as they choose, and hopefully it's with a Chamber member," Woolson said.

The concept -- developed by the Chamber -- is intended as a quick and easy way to incentivize local shopping and in some cases introduce consumers to shops and items they may have overlooked. The monetary reward is expected to be a worthy carrot for consumers.

"The recession officially ended 20 months ago, but it certainly doesn't feel like it," Woolson acknowledged. "It was late coming to the Northwest and it was late coming to Walla Walla compared to the rest of the Northwest."

Official rules for Keep it Home for the Holidays are available at the Chamber's site. To find a Chamber-member business visit checkthechamber.com . For more details, visit wwvchamber.com.

Vicki Hillhouse can be reached at vickihillhouse@wwub.com or 526-8321.

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