By Krista Kielsmeier
The Haines Chamber of Commerce’s "Think Haines First" campaign launched in April, and chamber president Ned Rozbicki would like the "shop at home" promotion to continue.
"The idea is to work toward making it a year-round, promotional effort, but we are still seeking funding to cover the costs on that," Rozbicki said.
He said radio public service announcements and print advertising would be two ways to market the program.
"Research shows that effective ‘shop local’ campaigns, run continually, can increase commerce done locally on the order of 5 percent," Rozbicki said. "We didn’t expect to run this for a month and have it increase commerce 5 percent. The chamber sees this as an ongoing, year-round campaign, and if we can continue to keep it in the public’s eye and keep people thinking about it, we hope that we’ll see responses along that order for businesses."
Bike shop owner Thom Ely said the campaign and May’s designation as "Haines Borough Bike Month" helped his business.
"We generally get a lot of traffic in April, because people are excited to get back on their bikes or buy a new bike, but we had a good month, April sales-wise," Ely said. "I would say there was probably a little bit of an increase in traffic to our store."
Bookstore owner Tom Heywood said shopping locally "seems to be more of a topic of conversation around town" in recent weeks, and he’s heard more customers say, "I really want to buy this locally," when they make a purchase.
Chamber manager Joan Carlson said more than 200 pins with the "Think Haines First" logo have been sold during the campaign.
The chamber also placed 40 comment buckets throughout town during April to collect feedback forms on local businesses.
Rozbicki said buckets went out to a few non-chamber members. Businesses also displayed "Think Haines First" posters with the message, "We’re all in it together!"
"I think people embraced the marketing campaign and the imagery used for it," Rozbicki said.
Grocer Mike Ward said: "I can’t say definitively that we saw a huge surge or anything, but I’m sure it’s not hurting.
"At this point, I think it’s a good program; it’s something that over the long haul, just planting that seed is where the benefit is."