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Buy Local Week drawing promotes buy local effort

Phil Castle, The Business Times

A new promotion will reward shoppers for patronizing Grand Valley businesses by awarding them prizes.

At the same time, though, the promotion is part of an ongoing effort by the Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce to bolster the economy by encouraging people to shop locally.

“We want to get people thinking about where they spend their money,” said Nathan Wallace, owner of the CommWest office communications company and chairman of the chamber committee that organized the effort.

Through Oct. 16, participants in what’s been designated as Buy Local Week can turn in their receipts from any Grand Valley businesses and enter them in a drawing for prizes to be awarded Oct. 18.

Participants can drop off their receipts — or photocopies of those receipts — in special boxes set up at the chamber offices at 360 Grand Ave. or at guest services at the Mesa Mall at 2424 U.S. Highway 6 & 50. Participants must write their names and telephone numbers legibly on the backs of the receipts. Receipts must be turned in by 5 p.m. Oct. 17.

A drawing is planned as part of the chamber’s Business Showcase. The annual trade show and networking event is scheduled for 4 to 8 p.m. Oct. 18 in the Colorado Mesa University Center near 12th Street and Elm Avenue.

Participants may enter as many receipts in the drawing as they’d like, Wallace said. “The more receipts, the more chances you have to win.”

Participants are eligible to win only one prize each and need not be present at the Business Showcase to claim prizes.

Businesses have donated a number of prizes for the drawing, including a Kindle, component stereo, gift cards and two hair care packages.

The Buy Local Week is part of the chamber’s broader Blue Band Wagon campaign to encourage people to shop locally.

Wallace said there are a number of benefits to shopping in the Grand Valley, among them supporting businesses that employ people, pay taxes and contribute to community programs. “It’s the local businesses that are going to keep the valley going.”

Moreover, it’s estimated that every dollar that’s spent with a Grand Valley business circulates in the local economy three times.

The Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce launched the Blue Band Wagon campaign in May 2010. The chamber and participating businesses distribute blue rubber wrist bands inscribed with the words “buy local.” The bands remind those wearing them to make their purchases in the Grand Valley. At the same time, participating businesses offer various discounts to customers wearing the bands.

Since May 2010, more than 15,000 blue bands have been distributed and more than 150 businesses now offer discounts through the campaign.

The campaign isn’t intended to promote only locally owned and operated businesses, but all businesses located in the Grand Valley. The campaign is open to all businesses whether or not they belong to the chamber.

Luann Harrah, owner of Harrah’s Hair Skin Nails in Grand Junction, has participated in the Blue Band Wagon campaign since its inception. Harrah said the campaign and the discounts she offers on products have helped attract new clients as well as retain existing clients.

Earl Cogdill, owner of U.S. Tech in Grand Junction, also said the campaign and the discounts he offers at the consumer electronics store has generated interest from customers. “It’s worked really well for us.”

Diane Schwenke, president and chief executive officer of the chamber, said the Buy Local Week promotion involves not only businesses participating in the Blue Band Wagon program, but all businesses in the Grand Valley. Of course, people who bring their blue wrist bands to businesses involved with the campaign also can take advantage of the discounts, Schwenke added.

Buy Local Week was scheduled in part to encourage people to think about shopping in the Grand Valley in advance of the holiday shopping season that begins in earnest in November, Schwenke said. The timing also fit in well with the upcoming Business Showcase, which will feature representatives from 75 businesses.

If there’s sufficient response to the first Buy Local Week promotion, the event could be offered again, perhaps even quarterly, Schwenke said.

Added Wallace: “We need to keep refreshing, keep out in front of people.”

Phil Castle is editor of the Grand Valley Business Times, a twice-monthly business journal published in Grand Junction. Castle brings to his duties nearly 30 years of experience in editorial management positions with Western Colorado newspapers. In addition, his free-lance work has appeared in a variety of publications, including the Washington Post. He holds a bachelor's degree in technical journalism from Colorado State University.
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