Friday, December 24, 2010

Hailey tries to rally local shoppers

Efforts designed to counteract recession, competition

Express Staff Writer

Hailey Chamber of Commerce employee Anna Svidgal wraps a present that was bought in Hailey. The chamber rolled out a number of incentives to keep spending local. Photo by David N. Seelig

Valley merchants and other businesses rely on holiday shoppers to boost sales and provide a strong launch into the winter season. The Hailey Chamber of Commerce has taken some steps to keep spending local, but so far business is flat at many stores as they approach Christmas Eve.

"People are buying more sale items. They are looking for better deals, especially on toys," said Bessie Radabaugh, manager of King's department store on Main Street.

She said she has seen a minor slowdown in business from last year.

"People are being more frugal with their money," she said.

AmericInn in Hailey reports that occupancy rates are up slightly from last year, indicating that some visitors to the Wood River Valley are staying south. AmericInn owner Kathy Deal in Minnesota said that could be due to the fact that room rates have remained flat or gone down.

"We're looking forward to a new year and hopefully it will be better for everyone," Deal said.

Hailey Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Heather LaMonica Deckard said chamber incentives and extended shopping hours are working to keep local dollars in town.

Thirty Hailey restaurants, shops and service providers are participating in the Hailey Holiday Raffle. Customers at participating businesses receive one ticket for every $10 spent locally. Each weekend leading up to Christmas, dozens of raffle prizes and $1,500 in Hailey Chamber Bucks, redeemable only at local stores and restaurants, have been awarded to lucky winners.

Deckard said the chamber had collected about 15,000 raffle tickets from businesses and will award the final $1,500 Hailey Chamber Bucks prize today, Christmas Eve, at noon at the Hailey city Christmas Tree in the courtyard of the Meriwether Building at 111 First Ave.

"About 200 people have shown up each time to hear the winner named," Deckard said. "This adds to the activity in town."

The chamber is also selling Hailey Chamber Bucks gift certificates.

"We're also offering to wrap any presents bought locally, at the Hailey Chamber of Commerce office," Deckard said. "It's all about encouraging people to shop locally and spread the spirit of Christmas."

Lisa Abaid, at North and Co. clothing store on Main Street, said business is definitely slower for her this season than in years past, but the recent snow seems to have helped.

"Our numbers are way down, but we do have some core loyal customers who shop here all year round," she said. "It seems that people want to shop local, but there's still a long line of traffic going south."

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