Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Retailers look to share holiday spirit

Small businesses partner with local nonprofits for holidays

Express Staff Writer

Customer Thomas Falk buys a new shirt at Silver Creek Outfitters on Tuesday. Photo by Willy Cook

    It’s no secret that amid the hustle and bustle of preparing for the holidays, many locals sneak off to Twin Falls and the big-box stores to do their holiday shopping. But nearly 50 local retailers are trying to reverse that trend this year by appealing to locals and donating part of their sales to local nonprofit organizations, in a program called Share the Spirit.
    Share the Spirit will be held Dec. 7-9 at 46 local retailers, including everything from art galleries and shoe stores to bookstores and boutiques.
    Share the Spirit was originally started in 2006 by Silver Creek Outfitters owner Terry Ring. Ring said that at the time, the goal was less to promote shopping locally and more to celebrate nonprofit organizations in the valley.
    “It was a celebration of the generosity of the community and the good work the nonprofits were doing,” he said. “It was meant to increase awareness of nonprofits and increase the link between them and the for-profit community.”
    The program started in what Ring called the “boom times,” and had a participation of 26 businesses the first year. However, the following years brought the Castle Rock Fire and an economic meltdown—and with them, the end of the Share the Spirit program.
    “The last five years have been the most challenging time that I have ever seen for businesses in Ketchum,” Ring said.
    The program was resurrected this year by Wood River Economic Partnership Director Doug Brown and other Wood River Valley residents.
    “We said, ‘Let’s take this old idea and put it on steroids,’” Brown said with a laugh.
    Judi Verge, retail manager for Sun Valley Co., said all Sun Valley stores are donating 10 percent of their proceeds for those three days to the Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation and local schools.
    “I think it brings the community together,” Verge said of the event. “We were asked to be part of something with the whole community and we just jumped on it. It helps bridge the gap—that mile gap, the distance [between Ketchum and the Sun Valley Resort].”
    Natalia Ferris, marketing manager for Silver Creek Outfitters, said the store is donating 15 percent of all sales made over the weekend to St. Luke’s Wood River Foundation. Ring is on the board of the hospital, Ferris said, so the pairing was a natural fit.
    Ferris said she was born and raised in Sun Valley, so she understands the ups and downs of the tourist seasons, as well as the reasons it’s so important to shop locally.
    “Even I shop in Twin,” she said. “But I try to shop more local now, because I understand that people are trying to make a living [in retail].”
    Ferris said the weekend of Dec. 7 is typically slow, as are the rest of the December weeks leading up to Christmas. People are buying gifts in Twin, she said, and visitors haven’t arrived yet for peak ski season.
    “We are busier the day before Christmas than the three weeks leading up to it!” she said. “Those first weeks before Christmas, it’s really slow.”
    Ferris said she thought partnering with a nonprofit organization was a good way to engage locals who might not think about shopping at area stores for the holidays but who might wish to support a good cause that way.
    “We’ll donate to a foundation you probably support—or at least know about,” she said.
    But even more than supporting local nonprofit organizations, Ring said, Share the Spirit is about maintaining the community’s vitality and ensuring that local businesses remain in the area.
    “Specialty retailers are under attack, and I’m not sure what’s going to happen,” he said. “All local businesses are important for the community. If you want to live in a community where the only businesses that survive are FedEx and UPS, just shipping things back and forth, that’s a bland community. The more businesses in the community that survive, the more vital the community.”
    Share the Spirit will start Friday, Dec. 7, and run through Sunday, Dec. 9, at 46 retailers in Ketchum, Sun Valley and Hailey. For an up-to-date list of participating retailers and nonprofit organizations, visit


Nonprofits and supporters

Looking to support a specific cause with your shopping? Here are the participating nonprofits and the stores sponsoring them for Share the Spirit:

-  St. Luke’s Wood River Foundation – Silver Creek Outfitters
-  Sun Valley Wellness Institute – Chapter One Bookstore, Lotus, NourishMe
-  Animal Shelter of the Wood River Valley – Ketchum Bed and Bath, The Picket Fence, Sway Boutique, Bellissimo, Bavarian Soul
-  Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation – Pk’s Ski and Snow Sports, Sun Valley retailers (The Brass Ranch, Pete Lane’s, resort gift shops), Ketchum Flower Co.
-  Advocates for Survivors of Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault – Panache, Burnsies, Sister, Farasha
-  Wood River Bike Coalition – Sturtevants
-  Blaine County Recreation District – The Elephant’s Perch
-  Camp Rainbow Gold – Willow Papery, Elle Rose
-  Sun Valley Summer Symphony – Ketchum Kitchens
-  Sawtooth Botanical Garden – Open Room
-  Hunger Coalition – Gilman Contemporary, Blues Jean Bar
-  Wounded Warriors Project – Sheepskin Coat Factory
-  Papoose Club – The Toy Store
-  Company of Fools – Iconoclast Books
-  Sun Valley Center for the Arts – Modern Mercantile, Architectural Resources
-  Sun Valley Adaptive Sports – Barry Peterson Jewelers, Vault
-  Expedition Inspiration – Sun Valley Shutters and Shades, Fox Creek Interiors
-  Crisis Hotline – Ozzies Shoes
-  NexStage Theatre – T’s and Temptations
-  Swift Sure Ranch – My House Furnishings
-  Wood River Land Trust – Lost River Outfitters
The Sawtooth Club will be promoting the event by offering a discount on entrees and drinks and coupons for participating stores. The Cornerstone Bar and Grill will also participate, but had not partnered with a nonprofit as of press time.

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