Blair Chamber to end Buy Here Bucks

The Blair County Chamber of Commerce has discontinued an initiative created to encourage greater sales of products and services at local retailers and hospitality businesses.

The Buy Here Bucks gift certificate program, which began in October 2017, fell short of expectations both in terms of participation and financial viability.

Chamber president/CEO Joe Hurd said he is disappointed the program wasn’t successful.

“The chamber is constantly looking for tangible ways to connect with our local retailers because retail is such a key component of our economy. We did a significant amount of research on gift certificate programs and talked to several chambers in the Midwest that were doing them successfully. We felt that a program like Buy Here Bucks was consistent with our ongoing message of Buy Here. Live Here,” Hurd said.

“Despite the fact that we direct quite a bit of attention to helping further the prospects of retail and hospitality, we have very few members in those industry sectors. That’s perplexing. We were hoping that Buy Here Bucks would be an additional way to let retailers and restaurants know that we were looking out for them. The response, in terms of participation, was low,” Hurd added.

Charlene Dodson, owner of Charlotte’s Trove, Roar­ing Spring, was chairwoman of the retail committee when the program was launched.

“I guess it is like any program, some work and some don’t. It would have been a really nice feature for small business members to have a program that would help dollars stay in the community rather than leave the community,” Dodson said. “It was difficult for a small business to integrate into their business practice. It was a hard sell for the chamber. From the buying local standpoint, the concept and interest were fantastic, the operation and integration were much more difficult.”

Anyone who has purchased Buy Here Bucks can still redeem them at the businesses that accept them (the list is at www.blair

chamber.com) until midnight on May 24.

Mirror Staff Writer Walt Frank is at 946-7467.

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