Whidbey businesses compete for holiday shoppers
By ELISABETH MURRAY
Whidbey Examiner Staff
November 21, 2012 · Updated 9:43 AM
First red. Then white. Now green.
For Whidbey Island communities trying to entice customers to their local businesses by offering prizes, the competition has grown stiffer this holiday season.
People visiting local businesses now have a chance to snag tickets to win cash or prizes when they go shopping in Coupeville, Langley and Oak Harbor.
Lynda Eccles, the executive director for the Coupeville Chamber of Commerce, said she understands why these promotions are springing up all over Whidbey.
“Every community is trying to support its small businesses,” Eccles said.
That’s what members of the Coupeville Historic Waterfront Association had in mind when they started the Red Ticket promotion five years ago.
When a sluggish economy began hurting sales, the businesses in Coupeville’s historic downtown area developed a strategy aimed at discouraging local residents from heading off-island for their holiday shopping.
For every $20 spent in Coupeville, the shopper gets a chance to win $1,000 in cash.
“I am thrilled it has been such a success,” said Beth Kuchynka, owner of bayleaf and one of the founders of the Red Ticket promotion. “It has been a real community event.”
In addition to getting people to shop locally, it draws people back to town for the drawing event, she said.
CHWA Executive Director Vickie Chambers said the event has become “enormously popular.”
“A large crowd gathers,” Chambers said. “There is a lot of socializing and neighbors visiting with each other. You feel really good about staying in town.”
The prize promotions are a wonderful way to keep residents shopping locally, instead of heading to malls in other counties, Chambers said.
Eccles noted that Coupeville has very loyal supporters. Having several promotions on Whidbey may help not only keep residents shopping in the county, it might also encourage off-island visitors to come to the island to spend their holiday cash, Eccles said.
The Coupeville drawing will be held at 1 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 23 at the Island County Historical Museum.
Last year, Langley introduced its own White Ticket drawing – the exact same promotion as the one held in Coupeville.
“Imitation is the best form of flattery,” Kuchynka said with a laugh.
In its inaugural year, the Langley drawing was scheduled for the same day as the one in Coupeville – and both require the winner to be present. They were held just one hour apart, and the 40-minute drive in between made it a challenge. This year, the Langley chamber coordinated the date of its drawing with Coupeville. Langley’s drawing is at 3 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 22 at Boy and Dog Park.
Marc Esterly, executive director of the Langley Chamber of Commerce, said he believes both communities can benefit from the exposure.
“People I have spoken to said that they shopped both (Coupeville and Langley),” he said. “People enjoyed both communities.”
The Oak Harbor Chamber of Commerce is giving away $2,000 worth of gift certificates and prizes, and the Oak Harbor Downtown Merchants Association is trying to woo shoppers to Pioneer Way with $500 cash.
“Anything we can do to draw people downtown is a big plus,” said Bob Olson, owner of Whidbey Wild Bird.
This year, Oak Harbor’s downtown association retooled its Green Ticket promotion.
Previously, the association gave out “Downtown Dollars” that could only be spent at businesses on Pioneer Way.
Keeping track of how much prize money was outstanding became time consuming, so the association decided to simplify the promotion by offering one $500 cash prize. The drawing will be held at 4 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 15 at Old Town Mall.
Eccles, the Coupeville Chamber director, said she doesn’t mind the increasing competition.
“Of course I want everyone to shop in Central Whidbey,” she said. “But if they can’t, I want them shopping on-island. It benefits everybody.”
Shop local and win
For the three cash drawings in Coupeville, Langley and downtown Oak Harbor, participants must be 18 and must be present to win.
Red Ticket - For every $20 spent at a participating Coupeville business, get a red ticket to be entered in a drawing for one of three $100 cash prizes and one $1,000 cash prize. The drawing is at 1 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 23 at the Island County Historical Museum, 908 N.W. Alexander St., Coupeville. Visit coupevillehistoricwaterfront.com.
White Ticket - For every $20 spent at a participating Langley business, get a ticket to be entered in a drawing for $1,000 in cash, 3 p.m. Saturday Dec. 22 at Boy and Dog Park, First Street, Langley. For information, go to visitlangley.com.
Green Ticket - For every $20 spent at a participating downtown Oak Harbor business, get a green ticket to be entered in a drawing for $500 in cash. The drawing is at 4 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 15 at Old Town Mall, 830 S.E. Pioneer Way, Oak Harbor.
Oak Harbor Chamber of Commerce - For every $50 spent at chamber businesses through Dec. 31, get a ticket for a raffle for $2,000 worth of gift cards and prizes. The drawing is on Jan. 17, 2013 and participants need not be present to win. For details, contact the chamber at 360-675-3755.