Cindy Jacobus of The Lollipop Shop thinks Main Street Dollars are a sweet deal.
The half-price certificates, which allow customers to spend $10 and receive $20 in Main Street Dollars, is a shopper-incentive project by Main Street Beaufort, USA.
"A lot of people, as soon as they got them, they wanted to spend them," said Jacobus, whose store participated in the program when Main Street first tried it last winter. "People would come in, and they would spend more than the Dollars they had."
Modeled after a program in Ardmore, Pa., Main Street Dollars is intended to spur spending during slow times for participating retailers, according to LaNelle Fabian, the organization's executive director. The next round of Dollars will be sold Aug. 18.
In February, Main Street Beaufort sold certificates with a total face value of $15,000, and even with a $100 per-person face-value limit, they sold out in 18 minutes, Fabian said. Since the certificates are sold at half price, Main Street Beaufort used $7,500 out of its marketing fund to make up the difference.
Dollars work much like gift certificates at participating businesses, which honor the face value of the dollars and are reimbursed by Main Street for the full amount of their goods. In six weeks, $14,380 in certificates were redeemed at the 50-plus participating businesses.
About $8,300 was spent in retail shops, $5,200 in restaurants and $760 on services.
"That's good because that's what we wanted to see," Fabian said. "We didn't want to see one area, like restaurants or retail, get all the money."
Since no change is given for Main Street Dollars, customers sometimes spend more than the certificates are worth, Fabian said. Receipts indicate the program led to more than $20,000 in purchases.
Roger Alley, owner of Blackstone's Cafe, said he plans to get in line early for the next sale. His restaurant received a significant boost from the winter dollars, but he missed the chance to use them himself.
A "tepid" supporter of Main Street Beaufort, Alley said this program made it worth joining the organization.
Cheryl Hunter, Joli Home Accents co-owner, is looking forward to the program's return, even though the store took in only 50 Main Street Dollars the first time around.
"We would be happy to see it come back," she said. "It was not much of a draw for us -- I think, perhaps, the restaurants made out better than we did -- but I think anything that gets people out is good for us."
- Main Street to help customers shop downtown Beaufort at half-price, Jan. 10, 2012
- Incentives aim to draw shoppers downtown, Feb. 3, 2012