By Curt Peterson
From Oct. 12 through Nov. 12, individuals who spend $30 or more at participating businesses and ask to use “Real Bucks” in participating towns will receive $10 off their total purchase (while supplies last). Participating businesses will receive the $10 discount back after redeeming the Real Bucks with their Area Association.
Killington is one of about 20 towns participating in the program funded by a Restart Vermont Regional Marketing Grant through the Vermont Agency of Commerce & Community Development (ACCD), according to Gary Holloway, downtown program coordinator for the ACCD. Locally, the Brandon Area Chamber of Commerce, Poultney Area Chamber of Commerce, Town of Castleton, and Chamber & Economic Development of the Rutland Region were awarded grants to launch Real Bucks programs.
According to the Killington Pico Area Association (KPAA), the program is expected to generate approximately $125,000 in additional consumer spending activity in our region.
Participating businesses in Killington include Alpine Bike Works, Aspen East Ski Shop, Backcountry Café, Casey’s Caboose, Darkside Snowboards, First Stop Ski Shop & Board Barn, Flannels Bar & Grill, JAX Food and Games, Killington Market, Liquid Art Coffeehouse & Eatery, Still on the Mountain – Killington Distillery, Sushi Yoshi, The Foundry at Summit Pond, and The Garlic.
Terms of the grants dictate local currencies can’t be spent on tobacco products, cannabis, alcohol, lottery tickets or firearms, and can’t be used to pay taxes or tips.
Killington’s program, called Real Killington Bucks, is managed by the Killington Pico Area Association.
The program is meant to be easy. Patrons only have to ask to use Killington Bucks when theypays at the register, and $10 is deducted from the cost of any purchase of $30 or more.
“We have heard good things so far about the program,” Krista Neary at KPAA told the Mountain Times. “It’s been going well and has intrigued local customers as well as tourists. It is also helping businesses make sales when the customer is hesitant about the price of an item.”
Neary said the program’s success can’t be quantifiable until all the “bucks” are redeemed, but she feels Killington will be looking for funding for similar subsequent programs.
Mike Drayton, who runs popular eatery Casey’s Caboose, said he’s found most customers, even locals, aren’t aware of the program, even though KPAA has advertised it and put up posters all over the area.
“So we push it,” Drayton said. “We tell customers to use the ‘bucks’ to get ten dollars off their bill. They like it – the response is very positive, even fun.”
Randy Elles, owner of First Stop Ski Shop and Board Barn, said his customers know about Killington Bucks and ask for the discount.
“Some see the posters in the shop as they come in, but others already know about it, maybe from patronizing other local businesses,” Elles said.
He has barely a dozen left.
Hartford, which includes White River Junction, also received a $10,000 grant, assisted by the Hartford Area Chamber of Commerce and Vital Communities, a non-profit economic, environmental and civic advocacy group. The grant allows $1,000 to be spent on processing fees and marketing costs, leaving $9,000 to back Hartford Dollars.
With the same goal – to promote consumer spending at small local businesses, consumers were offered Hartford Dollars, purchasable on-line from the Chamber, or in person at the Quechee Gorge Visitor Center, in denominations of $15 or $25, for 50 percent of their face value, and spend them at face value at local vendors.
Business owners could redeem the “dollars” at the Chamber after the program officially ends.
About 40 establishments participated, and the program was a much bigger success than anticipated – the funds were gone in just two days.