Business owners are raking in profits from a local spending campaign that smashed records over the holiday season, infusing $391,000 into participating local businesses.
Keep it Local for the Holidays, a campaign sponsored by Keep It Local Columbia County to promote local spending for the holidays, recorded a surge in spending this year, a four-fold increase from the previous record of $96,000 in 2019.
“I didn't know what to expect, and that made it fun for me because I was like, ‘Okay, we'll just see, you know, run this way, give it my 100% and whatever happens happens,’” Keep it Local for the Holidays Organizer Sierra Trass said. “It did really well. I was really surprised how well it did.”
Event organizers said three factors played into the success of this year's campaign, including record-high levels of participation, a major marketing push, and an intentional shift in consumer spending habits.
According to Trass, local shoppers turned in 1,958 Wonderland cards by the Dec. 31 cutoff, filled out by 84 participating businesses.
The "Wonderland card" is a slip of paper with squares for participating businesses to fill out every time a shopper purchases $10 or more worth of goods at their store, which shoppers can submit to win prizes.
Trass also said her multi-faceted marketing strategy was effective in attracting customer attention.
“I did all the different things from billboards and posters on the participating businesses and nonprofits and all the social media posts,” she said. “I did everything I could in marketing, but I was really curious how much the pandemic would try to cancel out (the) people that would want to participate.”
However, Keep It Local staff said a shifting pandemic mindset played the largest role, fostering a newfound appreciation for local businesses.
Trass said in a survey conducted by the group, 78% of locals chose the option "to support local businesses" as to why they shop local.
“This desire of residents to support local businesses and nonprofits for the holidays is what made the campaign possible,” according to a release from Keep It Local. “Plus, with many participating locations encouraging and making it easy for customers to choose local, the chemistry was just right.”