Vouchers net $81K for Snowmass businesses | AspenTimes.com
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Vouchers net $81K for Snowmass businesses

A “Love a Local” sticker affixed to the window of a business in the Snowmass Mall indicates that the retailer accepted $25 vouchers issued by the town of Snowmass Village to area residents. Businesses could redeem vouchers for a reimbursement check from the town.
Kaya Williams / Snowmass Sun

Businesses in Snowmass Village so far have cashed in more than $81,000 from the second round of voucher programs aimed at stimulating spending via offers from the town and the Snowmass Mall landlord.

The second round of the town’s “Love a Local” vouchers, which gave area residents $25 vouchers to spend at participating village merchants, has been “a home run” for the community, Tourism Director Rose Abello said in an interview last week.

Similar $20 vouchers issued by Snowmass Mall property manager The Romero Group were “highly successful” and about $15,000 worth have been returned so far, according to Dwayne Romero.

Town documents show that 23 businesses have redeemed more than 2,650 “Love a Local” second-round vouchers as of Nov. 4, yielding $66,400 in payouts from the town to area merchants — a nearly 40% increase in payouts over round one returns. Nearly 4,000 vouchers were mailed out to residents in Snowmass Village, Aspen and Basalt in round two, and they had to be spent by Oct. 31.

Those numbers are expected to increase as merchants have until Friday to submit any vouchers they received to the town in exchange for a check.

Voucher redemptions were spread across different sectors of Snowmass business, with nearly a third of all Love a Local vouchers redeemed at area restaurants, a quarter of all vouchers redeemed at grocery stores, and a fifth of all vouchers redeemed at liquor stores, according to Nov. 4 redemption data from the town.

Retail received 12.5% of voucher redemptions, but retail redemptions may include some services and restaurant spending in the total amount to account for businesses that accepted vouchers at multiple vendors in those categories before closing some locations for the shoulder season. Spending on services was marginal, at just half a percent of all vouchers redeemed as of Nov. 4; marijuana accounted for roughly 5% of all voucher redemptions.

The flexibility of the vouchers was part of the goal, Abello said in a phone call on Nov. 10. Community members could spend the vouchers to suit their needs — whether that means securing groceries for the dinner table or splurging on a dinner out.

“I think that’s fabulous,” Abello said. “We really wanted to keep this as simple as possible (for recipients and businesses).”

The redemption rate is higher than it was round 1, which saw 1,905 vouchers redeemed and approximately the same number mailed out. Abello attributed the increase to greater familiarity with the program — and fewer people likely to toss the vouchers thinking it’s junk mail.

Second-round mailings helped curb the “junk mail” phenomenon for a similar program in the Snowmass Base Village, which issued two rounds of “Base Village Bucks” over the summer to all Snowmass Village PO boxes and Aspen physical addresses in July and August.

“I think in the first round people were still figuring out what the postcards were,” said Dawn Blasberg, Director of Village Experience for East West Partners. The Base Village saw a 22% redemption rate on their second round of vouchers in late summer but did not issue a fall batch, Blasberg said.

According to Barbara Bakios-Wickes, owner of Sundance Liquor in Snowmass Center, the “Love a Local” program helped bring new customers to her business from Aspen and Basalt. Data suggests that roughly two-thirds of all second-round Love a Local voucher redemptions came from customers from outside the Snowmass Village zip code.

“The vouchers brought in a lot of different people to the store that may not have been here before,” Bakios-Wickes said. “I think (the program) was certainly worthwhile.”

As a retailer selling alcohol, Sundance Liquor did particularly well with the Love a Local program; town documents indicate that alcohol sales accounted for more than 20% of all second-round voucher redemptions.

For her part, Bakios-Wickes isn’t ready to attribute the success of the voucher program at Sundance Liquor to a valley-wide rise in alcohol consumption just yet.

“I would like to say it’s because we offer great service, we have a great product line, the store is always clean and we have great employees,” she said with a chuckle.

A parallel voucher program in the Snowmass Mall also saw success with its second round of voucher mailings. There, businesses and shoppers could double up on the voucher benefits with $20 vouchers issued by property manager The Romero Group in addition to the $25 “Love a Local” vouchers.

Romero, president of the Group, said the second round of mall vouchers was distributed with a focus on people who live and work in Snowmass Village, combining mailings to Snowmass Village addresses with efforts to distribute some vouchers by hand. Round-one vouchers had been largely a mail-out venture distributed to a wider area of the valley.

The goal was to “get more focus onto the town,” Romero said. Out of roughly 2,500 vouchers distributed in round two, roughly 770 have been redeemed by businesses so far, yielding nearly $15,000 in rent abatements for tenants. Those numbers are expected to rise in the coming weeks; though the Romero Group has not set a deadline for redemption, Romero encouraged businesses to submit their vouchers as soon as possible to reap the benefits.

Romero considers the second round of vouchers a “highly successful” program for the mall.

“We crushed it,” Romero said. “We’re super excited about that.”

kwilliams@aspentimes.com


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