Homer Alaska - Business

Story last updated at 10:36 AM on Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Last call: Shopping derby wraps up Sept. 3

By McKibben Jackinsky
Staff Writer

Only four shopping days are left until the first Homer Shopping Derby, sponsored by the Homer Chamber of Commerce and Visitor Center, wraps up. Stamped tickets have to be turned in by Sept. 15.

A lucky shopper's name will be drawn during the chamber's luncheon meeting Sept. 25, with a $5,000 prize awarded, plus $500 to the business that sold the winning ticket.

"It's the last chance to go get 'em," said Monte Davis, the chamber and visitor center's executive director.

For anyone who hasn't participated, the five rules of the derby are simple:

• Buy a $10 derby ticket from a participating Homer Chamber of Commerce and Visitor Center member;

• Shop at any participating member location;

• Spend between $1 and $100 to have your derby ticket stamped;

• Get four stamps and receive another chance to win $5,000;

• Buy another derby ticket and repeat the steps as necessary.

Participating merchants can be identified by the shopping derby symbol: a soaring eagle clutching a yellow shopping bag in its talons.

The first-time derby began May 1 during Kachemak Bay Shorebird Festival, with 54 participating merchants. It has expanded since then to include another 10 businesses.

The inspiration for the derby came from Davis after he spotted a group of women at a local RV park.

"It looked like they were getting ready to go shopping and I realized that probably most of them had come here with someone out participating in the (Homer Jackpot) halibut derby and I just had the thought that we need to give them a derby to win something big, too," said Davis.

Giving shoppers a derby of their very own seemed like a fitting response to the complaint Davis had heard that the chamber focused on the visitor industry, especially businesses located on the Spit.

"I wanted to figure out some way to help all of our members, some way for the chamber to unquestionably do its best to drive business to everybody," said Davis.

With only a few days left until the derby wraps up, local businesses report a wide range of response.

"It's gone really good, both selling and stamping," said Tiffany Macauly of NOMAR, who bought two of the $10 tickets herself. "It's been pretty much equal, local and out-of-state shoppers. And a lot of women got into it because of the shopping."

At Picture Alaska Art Gallery, the sale of derby tickets has been slow.

"We've collected some from other people, but there haven't been that many people presenting their cards for stamps," said Trisha Davis. "During Shorebird (Festival), when it first started, there was a lot of activity and a lot were people from out of town."

Davis estimated about 1,000 tickets sold.

"It looks like it'll break even for the year," he said. "We'll have a 'post mortem' with the shopping derby task force in late September or early October and figure out what we can do next year to tweak it a little."

Derby tickets can be purchased at the chamber and visitor center, 201 Sterling Highway, or at any of the participating businesses displaying the shopping derby logo. For more information, call the chamber at 235-7740.

McKibben Jackinsky can be reached at mckibben.jackinsky@homernews.com.