Incentive program to shop local enters its fifth year in Palmer

48 businesses are participating in Shop Palmer
48 businesses are participating in Shop Palmer
Published: Nov. 21, 2022 at 6:13 PM AKST
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PALMER, Alaska (KTUU) - It’s easy to put off shopping for friends and family during the holiday season, but beating the rush out in Palmer might pay off. From Nov. 20 through Dec. 20 the Greater Palmer Chamber of Commerce is running its stamp incentive program called Shop Palmer.

According to the chamber’s executive director, Ailis Vann, it started in 2018 as a way for the chamber to connect with local businesses.

“At the time there wasn’t a lot that the chamber was doing for small businesses, and so we launched the Shop Palmer program to do just that,” Vann said. “You’re already out spending money locally for Christmas gifts and stuff, or food and beverages, so you might as well maybe get rewarded for it.”

The program serves as an incentive to shop at the 48 participating businesses in the city. For every $10 a shopper spends at one of the businesses, they get a stamp on a card. Each card has 10 open spaces to stamp, and once full, they can turn the card in to then be entered to win a grand prize of $1,000 worth of gift cards from participating stores.

Not only does Shop Palmer motivate people to spend money locally, but it also earns the city sales tax revenue.

“We can see week by week how much money people are spending in Palmer,” Vann stated. “We get some metrics off of the program too, which is really awesome.”

Since its inception, more businesses have participated in the program each year.

“The first year, in 2018, we had 16,” Vann recalled. “We’re up to 48.”

The chamber has calculated $2,151,900 in sales revenue across all the participating Shop Palmer businesses in the last four years, with last year alone pulling in $710,400 for local business. Business owners like Denise Nelson, who co-owns the downtown boutique NonEssentials with her daughter, said she’s seen people spend a couple more dollars at her store while the event is going on.

“Some people like to finish off their card if they’re close, they’ll buy a couple more things just to wrap up their cards,” Nelson said.

While it may be a modest amount of extra cash spent, it’s a welcome boost to small businesses operating in the post-pandemic world. At the height of COVID-19 there was a push for people to shop local to help small businesses keep their doors open — a campaign that has since waned.

“It was a rough two years,” Nelson said. “We don’t have the deep pockets that the big stores do, so a little bit of shopping, you know, 10 more customers or spending 10 more dollars does matter to our bottom line.”