The Multnomah and Hillsdale Golden Ticket program is designed to support local businesses

CONNECTION FILE PHOTO: KELSEY O'HALLORAN - Karen Wutzke wraps a customer's gift at Annie Bloom's Books in Multnomah Village.

Multnomah Village Business Association spokesman Randy Bonella says the holiday season can be a make-or-break time for local businesses.

"They have to have a strong holiday season in order to end the year with a profit. It's critical. It's vital," Bonella said.

And so to spur local business support and economic activity, Multnomah Village and Hillsdale partner every year for the Golden Ticket program. This year's event started Nov. 16 and ends Dec. 31, with 48 Multnomah and Hillsdale businesses participating.

The program allows shoppers to purchase an item at one local shop and receive a "golden ticket" that guarantees a discounted purchase at another local shop.

Individual stores set the spending requirement to earn a golden ticket. For instance, Annie Bloom's Books awards a golden ticket for purchases of $20 or more and golden tickets from other stores earn 10 percent off any item at the bookstore.

"We're very happy with the program. While it's difficult to measure its impact with any degree of certainty, customers tell us they enjoy the golden tickets a lot, and we both receive and give away hundreds of them every holiday season. They seem to be working to keep folks shopping at local, independent businesses, which is always a boon to any community," said Michael Peters of Annie Bloom's Books.

Based on Bonella's analysis, 34,000 tickets were in circulation in 2016 and 24 percent of those tickets were redeemed.

Also, based on numbers that are about five years old, Bonella says local businesses garner $800,000 off first-purchase revenue and $400,000 via second-purchase revenue during the program.

"I can't claim all the first purchases are due to the program, probably discount most of those, but a high percentage of second purchases may not have happened without it," Bonella said.

Bonella got the idea for the program while attending an Oregon Main Street Conference in 2010. He noticed that people don't value most coupons and wanted to figure out a way to create a program where coupons are thought to be more valuable. Bonella says making the coupon only attainable with a purchase gives it more value.

"I paid something. I got this. I'm gonna use it. That has been one of the main reasons why the program has done so well," he said.

Bonella also says the requirement that customers must use the ticket at a seperate shop from their original purchase enhances the viability of the program.

"People come shop, get the golden ticket and that incentivizes them to go to other shops. Those second and third purchases are absolutely vital for the success of small businesses," Bonella said.

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