Main Street Beaufort, USA, wants you to shop with its money.
The organization will sell $15,000 worth of "Main Street Dollars," which can be used Feb. 18 to March 31 at participating businesses. The dollars will be sold at half-price in $10 increments. So for $50 in cash, people will receive $100 in Main Street Dollars.
Businesses that accept the Dollars will be reimbursed by Main Street Beaufort, executive director LaNelle Fabian said. She hopes it will spur shopping during what usually is a slow period and get people talking about Beaufort's downtown.
"We hope it pays a payroll, pays a rent," she said.
Main Street Dollars will be on sale from 10 a.m. until sold out Feb. 18 at the organization's office at 101 West Street Extension.
The idea is borrowed from a program started in Ardmore, Pa., a few years ago, where "Downtown Dollars" has become so hot, the organization raffles them away.
"They got buzz, and got people talking, and that's what we want," Fabian said.
Main Street Beaufort will pay for the program with $7,500 from its marketing fund, but Fabian hopes that, as in Ardmore, local banks might donate additional money.
So that more people can participate, purchases will be limited to $100 in Main Street Dollars, Fabian said.
An Ardmore Initiative Office newsletter reported that $10,000 of Downtown Dollars generated $16,835 in local sales in 2010.
"I think its a very innovative thought in a time when the business downtown is slow, in between the holiday season and the tourist season," said city of Beaufort Redevelopment Commission Chairman Jon Verity.
If the program is successful, Fabian it may be repeated in August or September, another slow shopping period.
Follow reporter Erin Moody at twitter.com/EyeOnBeaufort.