Vickie Chambers, left, holds up the $1,000-stack of $2 bills during last year’s Red Ticket drawing while emcee Beth Kuchynka, right, explains how the drawing will work. File photo by Megan Hansen/The Examiner

Red Ticket offers incentive to shop local

As people gear up for the holiday season, Coupeville merchants are giving shoppers another incentive to shop locally.

The annual Red Ticket promotion began Nov. 1 and will continue through Saturday, Dec. 17.

For every $20 spent at any of the participating 32 Coupeville businesses, customers get one ticket and a chance at winning $1,000.

The idea is to lure customers downtown and support local small businesses.

“We want to remind people that there’s value in more ways than one to shop local,” said Vickie Chambers, executive director of the Coupeville Historic Waterfront Association. “We go against big-box stores and against Amazon. You’ve got to think of the impact on mom-and-pop stores.”

Coupeville was the first community on the island to start Red Ticket just shy of 10 years ago and, since then, ticket promotions have started in Oak Harbor and Langley as well.

Coupeville takes pride in being the first of the three communities to start the ticket contest to entice holiday shoppers, Chambers said.

“Every year, we’ve had more merchants participating than the year before,” Chambers said.

In 2015, 23,030 tickets were distributed which represent $460,600 in sales between the 31 participants.

“We look at this half a million dollar number and everyone says, ‘Really?’” Chambers said. “It’s really hard for me to tell how that compares to any other holiday season, but there’s really an energy about it this year.

“People are looking for it and want to support it and shop local and support that small business.”

The Island County Economic Development Council just reported that the town had a 49 percent increase in taxable retail sales for the second quarter of 2016.

Lynda Eccles, executive director for the Coupeville Chamber of Commerce, said there could be for a number of reasons for the increase, including the ongoing building project at the hospital.

Island County Tourism also reported a 27 percent increase in 2 percent lodging sales tax for Coupeville this year as of September, Eccles said.

“We’ve heard all year that Coupeville is seeing a 30-percent increase in traffic and the EDC’s numbers support that,” Chambers said. “People are shopping in Coupeville. We are full. We’ve had people waiting in line to take over businesses.

“People want to be here.”

Shoppers who earn red tickets in Coupeville are eligible for $1,300 in cash awards, including the grand prize of $1,000.

The drawing will be at 1 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 18, on the steps of the Island County Museum.

Participants must be present to win. If not, another name will be drawn.

“We give them a beautifully-wrapped stack of $2 bills,” Chambers said of the grand prize. “It just makes it fun. We have to order them from the bank. It’s probably a 6-inch stack.

“It not only catches your eye, it makes it fun and whimsical.”