Three local residents have won a total of $600 in “Love Bucks” that can be spent like cash at all 21 businesses that are part of the Love Ashcroft program.
Between October 10 and November 20, those who spent $15 or more at any of the participating Love Ashcroft businesses received a ballot, entering them into a draw for three prizes. Annie Bourret won $300, Brittley Cadwell won $200, and Cindy Skakun won $100.
A total of 957 ballots were returned, from businesses and organizations as varied as Beans Roasted Rite, Bonafide Books, UniTea, the Ashcroft Bakery, Quality Glass, Nature’s Gifts, and the Winding Rivers Arts & Performance Society. Wayne Robinson, the Village of Ashcroft’s deputy corporate officer and the community champion for the Love Ashcroft program, says he hopes the recent campaign raised people’s awareness about it.
“And it would be nice if more local businesses learned about the program and joined next year,” he adds.
Funding for the program comes from the Northern Development Initiative Trust (NDIT). Ashcroft council voted, at the open council meeting of November 14, to apply for the $1,200 in NDIT funding for Love Ashcroft for 2018.
“The usual funding [from NDIT] for the program is $1,200 per year,” says Robinson. “But this year we got an additional $2,000, which was provided to participating communities that were hardest hit by the wildfires. That’s why we stipulated that the Love Bucks prizes need to be spent by the end of the year in a Love Ashcroft business. It’s to help because businesses took a hit over the summer.”
Research has shown that when people shop in a big box store, less than 25 per cent of the amount spent stays in the community. When people shop locally, that dollar amount jumps to just under 60 per cent. Additionally, small businesses create just under 78 per cent of new jobs, and are the ones that step forward and help and support their communities.
Being part of the Love Ashcroft program is an opportunity for smaller businesses that might not have the time and resources to develop a website of their own. It is designed to promote independent, non-franchise businesses and certain kinds of home-based businesses, including artisans, crafters, artists, food producers, and farmers.
The program has spread to communities in central and northern B.C., with Ashcroft joining in 2014, and more communities continuing to come on board. For a one-time fee of $100, businesses that join the program get professional photographs taken of themselves and their business. These are then featured—along with a write-up about the business and its owner(s)—on the Love Ashcroft website (www.loveashcroft.com). Businesses can also take part in all promotions, and are part of the marketing program.
“NDIT takes care of the website,” says Robinson. “You get an opportunity to talk about yourself and your business, but you don’t have to do anything. Every time someone clicks on the website, a new business is featured. And there is some research from NDIT that shows people who are travelling look for ‘love’ businesses.”
Robinson handles the promotions, and says all that businesses need to do is reply by email with suggestions. If there are any changes to the business that need to be reflected on the website, Robinson says it’s easiest to come to him; the information will then be passed on to NDIT.
To learn more about Love Ashcroft, contact Robinson at (250) 453-9161 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.