Program is a shopping ‘Windfall’
How about an extra $2,000 to shop with this Christmas season or some time over the next year?
Nineteen businesses and the Jackson Hole Chamber of Commerce are offering that as the grand prize to entice residents to browse and buy in downtown Jackson over the next month rather than online or at the malls in Idaho Falls.
“That’s a pretty good incentive,” said Rick Howe, chamber vice president.
The shopping dollars are for the Jackson Hole Chamber of Commerce’s inaugural Winter Windfall, a promotion that lets shoppers enter a raffle when they patronize or even just visit any of the 19 businesses (see box for how it works).
Winter Windfall starts the day after Thanksgiving, aka Black Friday, the most super-hyped shopping day of the year in the U.S., and runs through Dec. 20. To kick things off a thousand raffle tickets will be given away at Friday evening’s Town Square holiday lighting festivities.
Retailers hope the lure of shopping dollars — there are $1,000 and $500 prizes as well as the $2,000 top prize — will make their season bright.
“Until about a week before Christmas, commerce in Jackson is very slow, and it is every year,” said Leslie Kraft, owner of Accentuate, a clothing store on East Broadway that’s one of the 19 Winter Windfall participants. “We’re trying to encourage locals not to drive over the pass. We would hope locals would support their local stores.”
Hope Nartonis, store manager at Nest, a clothing and home decor boutique on Pearl Avenue, said that although the weekend after Thanksgiving and the week before Christmas are busy, the in-between time tends to be quiet.
“We are so happy the chamber is hosting it,” she said of Winter Windfall. “It will create some friendly competition between stores as well as drive local traffic.”
It should be easy for residents to try their luck in Winter Windfall as they cross items off their shopping lists.
“All you have to do is just come downtown,” Howe said. “Everybody that signed up is close to Town Square.”
Chances are that when people check out one store in downtown Jackson they’ll visit others. Nartonis said she notices Nest customers doing a loop.
“Because of our location on Pearl Street people will end up here with a bunch of bags, or they park here, come into our shop first and then walk through town,” Nartonis said. “I definitely notice people carrying bags from Teton Mountaineering, Accentuate or Habits.”
The idea of quiet shops on Town Square might surprise anyone who’s seen media reports about crowds of frenzied shoppers on Black Friday. But Jackson’s December lull is talked about a lot at the chamber, Howe said.
“In my eight years at the chamber and eight years of being staff liaison to the Business Development Committee there has been discussion each year about the season after Black Friday and Small Business Saturday up to about Dec. 20,” Howe said.
“Many businesses in the community have been teetering on whether they should even be open during that period because it’s such a slow time of year.”
Gov. Matt Mead, Howe said, challenged communities in the state to do all they could to help their small businesses in ways that don’t rely on outside resources — like tourists, in Jackson’s case. Small businesses have a big economic impact.
“Seventy-four percent of all businesses in Wyoming have 10 employees or less,” Howe said. “That’s about 80 percent of all payroll.”
Nationally, enthusiasm for buying locally at independent businesses has picked up steam over the past eight years thanks to an American Express “Shop Small” campaign that designated the Saturday after Turkey Day as Small Business Saturday.
Winter Windfall aims to keep that momentum going beyond Saturday in downtown Jackson.
Kris Shean, owner of the Haagen-Dazs shop on Town Square, appreciates the chamber’s effort to “keep Jackson shopping at home.” The ice cream parlor will participate in Winter Windfall when it reopens Nov. 30.
“I am a chamber member and feel it’s important to support their initiatives,” Shean said. “This one especially, even though I am opening the week after it starts.
“If everyone in Teton County would spend even $200 with local businesses instead of online or in Idaho Falls, just think of the sales tax revenue and a more sustainable income for businesses to keep help employees,” she said.
Beyond the dollars-and-cents benefit of buying locally, Howe and store owners say there’s great stuff to buy in Jackson. The Winter Windfall businesses include an art gallery, candy shop, home goods shops, jewelry shops, card and gift stores and more — even a chiropractic office.
“Our business community offers some of the most unique shopping experiences you can find anywhere,” Howe said.
Jan Case, who operates JC Jewelers on North Cache Street with her husband, Jeter Case, said, “You can’t buy what we sell online. What we do is hand-crafted, and a lot of it is one of a kind.”
JC Jewelers, one of the Winter Windfall participants, will have a storewide 15 percent-off sale the weekend after Thanksgiving.
“We’ve done it every year for quite a few years,” Case said.
You might find good deals and seasonal merchandise at other shops, too.
At Nest, Nartonis said, “we’ll have some sales on Black Friday and Small Business Saturday to say thank you to all our regular shoppers.”
As for merchandise, “we have a lot of affordable sparkle, including sequined skirts and dresses that are great for Christmas and New Year’s Eve and the library ball,” Nartonis said. “We also have really affordable stockings and stocking stuffers, garlands and ornaments.”
Haagen-Dazs will get in the spirit, too.
“When I reopen I will have the yummy seasonal Peppermint Bark ice cream,” Shean said. “Creamy white chocolate ice cream with chocolate-covered bark and bits of peppermint.”
Howe asks Jackson residents to think about all the sponsorships of local events and support for fundraisers.
“You look at all the people who donate to those, and it’s always local businesses,” he said. “We’re just asking people to spend a little more at home.”
Eds. note: This has been corrected to show $3,500 total store credits.