Last year panned out as the best year for Houston Merchant Gift Certificates and the Chamber of Commerce would like to see further expansion of the program.
According to a report made to council, economic development officer Maureen Czirfusz attracted $90,546 in gift certificate purchases. Czirfusz credits the community’s involvement for making the program a success.
“With incredible involvement of the community, because if it wasn’t for the community, we’d never could have done it,” she said. “We had a lot of businesses participating this year, which was really wonderful and getting the word out.”
Sales for 2013 stood at $71,000 and $70,000 for 2014. When the Chamber first took over the program, they received $15,000 in sales.
Last year’s $20,000 jump in sales can be attributed to more gift certificates around.
“We had more companies involved this year. More companies were buying them either as incentives, safety programs, Christmas bonuses, or thank-you gifts,” she said.
Currently, 27 companies accept the gift certificates. The latest adopter being the District of Houston.
“It’s a very successful shop local program, encouraging people to spend money in Houston,” she said. “Our slogan at the bottom is, ‘Keeping businesses in town, while keeping your town in business.’ ”
Czirfusz revealed that sales spiked in October 2013 when the Houston Forest Products (HFP) mill closure was announced.
“I think people just see value in keeping the money in town and keeping the businesses active when HFP closed,” she said. “And that was our big jump – we went from $39,000 to $70,000.
“I think a lot of it had to do with the mill closure and how to keep our community vital and people supporting it.”
Czirfusz adds that other communities such as Burns Lake, Fraser Lake and Invermere have adopted similar programs, with more to come.
“I did a conference call last week with [Ministry of] Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training from Vancouver Island and with their chamber managers and some of their economic development officers because they’re looking at adopting the program on Vancouver Island,” she said.