City of Rifle’s holiday shopping program yields mixed results
Citizen Telegram Editor
The City of Rifle’s annual holiday shopping promotion program had a good response rate from businesses and residents last year, but the original intent of the program remained a little elusive, according to a city official.
The Rifle Bucks program began in 2009 as a way of trying to boost holiday shopping – and the city’s sales tax revenue – at small businesses in the city. However, each of the last three years has seen most of the program’s coupons – $10 off for each $20 purchase made last year – used at Walmart, said Government Affairs Coordinator Kimberly Bullen.
“The first year it started, it seemed to be very good,” she added. “But as time has gone on, it seems to have been less successful getting the shopping into downtown and small businesses anywhere in the city.”
While city sales tax revenue comes from all businesses, including Walmart, each participating small business owner hasn’t seen as much of the benefits of increased sales by luring more customers in the door with the coupons, Bullen said.
“It seems to have continued to help customers and citizens, but it hasn’t done as much to meet the goal of being more of an economic stimulant,” she noted.
Rifle Bucks is in the city’s 2014 budget at $30,000, the same amount as last year.
Last year’s program began on Monday, Nov. 18, and lasted until the dedicated funding of $30,000 was expended, or Dec. 24. In previous years, the city had budgeted $60,000 for the program, but cut the amount in half last year due to declining revenues.
The program is designed to help encourage people to shop in Rifle by receiving $10 off any single total purchase of $30 or more at a single establishment. In previous years, with more money available, the discount was $20 on a $60 purchase.
The city prints the coupons and makes them available to individuals and licensed businesses to pick up at City Hall.
Participating businesses are given “The Buck Shops Here” window posters to promote their participation.
Coupons cannot be used to purchase services, groceries, alcohol, tobacco, lottery tickets, gasoline, gift cards, medical marijuana or prescription medication/pharmaceuticals.
Businesses were allowed to pick up 10 coupons per day for three days, then up to 25 coupons on the final day, based on availability. Adults over the age of 18 can pick up one coupon per weekday.
To use a Rifle Buck, customers must spend at least $30 on an eligible single purchase (before taxes) and present the coupon (or receive one from the merchant) for a $10 reduction in their total bill. Businesses must have collected and kept the coupons, tracked sale receipts where the coupons were used, filled out a reimbursement request, and brought that information to the city finance department in City Hall before Friday, Jan. 10.
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It was a close game, but after some thrilling back-and-forth plays the Rifle Bears were able to pull off the 28-20 victory over The Academy on May 1.