South Cariboo Chamber of Commerce members will get a boost after West Fraser bought $38,850 in Chamber Bucks to give to their workers as a Christmas bonus.
The purchase, one of the biggest in the chamber’s history, has emptied the chamber’s bank of the special currency, executive director Sue Moss said. Chamber bucks can be bought from the chamber and spent at any business that is a member. Once the money is used, the bucks will be returned to Moss and she’ll issue more of it, with the chamber keeping two percent of the profits.
The bucks will help to bolster local sales at participating businesses, she said. Currently, there are about 60 business members of the South Cariboo Chamber of Commerce.
“It’s going to be given out as Christmas bonuses and then those bonuses have to be spent in the South Cariboo at chamber member businesses,” Moss explained. “It’s fabulous, I love this town. I thank them very much for doing that, it’s a real community effort.”
Jordan Townsend, general manager of West Fraser’s 100 Mile Lumber, said it’s been a crazy year for everyone and both he and the company wanted to recognize the hard work his 170 employees have done throughout this challenging time. He noted they’ll still need to collect about $3,850 worth of the chamber bucks when Moss replenishes her supply.
“Chamber Bucks was a great opportunity to share our appreciation for the extra efforts of our employees over the last several months, give where we live, and support the businesses that make our community great,” Townsend said.
Orville’s Backhoe and Septic Services Ltd. also bought $3,000 worth of Chamber Bucks for use as Christmas bonuses for its employees.
Moss said so far the holiday season has been going fairly well for the chamber, with many people already shopping locally as part of the organization’s “Bought with Love in the South Cariboo” campaign. More than 100 people who have bought locally have already been entered into a draw.
“I’ve got a boxful of tickets in my drawer so I know people are out there enthusiastically shopping,” she said.
Lucy Menzel, assistant manager of Pharmasave 100 Mile House, said she’s noticed a huge increase in the number of people spending their money in town this Christmas. She and others, like Frankie Vitorino, of The Outlaw Fashions, said more people are becoming aware of what 100 Mile House has to offer.
“It’s definitely different this year. People are staying closer to home and don’t want to travel,” Menzel said. “If you have a look around town we have lots of everything. We weren’t sure what was going to happen with COVID. It’s been good.”
At Nuthatch Books, owner Joy Gawne said she’s been “busy, busy, busy.” She counts herself lucky for having a loyal customer base, saying many people who used to pass through the area are now ordering books online and having them shipped. “I cannot complain,” she said. “Considering the situation, I’ve had a wonderful year. I guess they don’t want to go to the malls, maybe. That’s great because they can find all the wonderful stores here.”
Pam Peterson, at Century Hardware, said it’s hard to tell if there has been a huge difference in visitors to the store this year over last. Although the community has been supportive of local businesses, she said online shopping at big box stores is on the upswing.
“I would be naive to say that online shopping hasn’t increased,” she said. “Unfortunately they don’t understand that by doing that, stores here can’t give back to the community as much. Amazon doesn’t support local sports or the arts.”
Vitorino said more people are becoming aware of shopping locally.
“People are more aware they have to shop at home in order for us to be open,” she said. “We really appreciate that. I’m not sure if there are more than last year but there are new people we’ve never seen before.
“I’m quite positive we’ll be ok. It’s a wonderful community we live in. We’ve been here for 38 years and we’d like to be here for a few more. I’d just like to thank the community for shopping with us.”